Monday, September 20, 2010

New DNA Evidence May Exonerate Convicted Murderer


by jnr

DNA analysis can either be a sharp sword for prosecuting attorneys or a strong shield for the accused, but can it be relied upon too much?

Investigators have found new DNA evidence in the murder of Peggy Hettrick, a case that was considered closed until genetic evidence freed a man who spent 10 years in prison, according to Colorado Attorney General John Suthers.

The "touch DNA" tests weren't available in the late 1990s. Timothy Masters was convicted of murder in Hettrick's death in 1999, but his conviction was overturned in 2008 after defense lawyers used advanced DNA testing to uncover evidence suggesting a different suspect.

The new evidence was taken from Hettrick's clothing. "We have done 'touch DNA,' and I think it has moved the ball forward. We will know more in the future," Suthers said. He wouldn't say whose DNA was found or identify the clothing on which it was found.

Masters has not been exonerated in the case and remains a suspect.

"While we are not in a position to exonerate Tim at this time, I emphasize that he is presumed innocent and is no more a suspect than a variety of other people," Suthers said.

"A variety of other people"? I would like to know what evidence was presented at trial that led to the conviction of Masters, and if this new DNA evidence refutes it. Does the presence of a DNA profile on the clothing of the victim that does not match the defendant prove his innocence? Only if you can prove that only the killer placed his DNA upon the item. Good luck with that.

69 comments:

Abhishek said...

In this case it really has acted as a strong shield for the accused, but does the presence of a DNA profile on the clothing of the victim that does not match the defendant really prove his innocence unless the actual assailant has been identified?

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DNA on anything doesn't prove anything. It's only a DNA profile that matches the suspects, not the suspects DNA...

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Anonymous said...

The DNA is not the suspect's...whose is it? That is the real question. And why do the prosecutors get a promotion after this trial?

CR

Anonymous said...

True. The DNA is not the suspect's, but that does not necessarily rule him out. For all we know someone else touched the victim's clothing before the murder but was not actually the killer. Of course, a DNA profile match is needed.

GRP.

Anonymous said...

@Abhishek,

I think he's innocent until found guilty because if the DNA found on the victim doesn’t match the defendant, then that alone should be enough evidence to reopen the case itself. Simply because the new DNA, if not a match to him, is evidence that another male was in the house before or when the crime occurred. Also, if the DNA sample is just now getting discovered, then what evidence was used to find the defendant guilty, all those years ago?

SC

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