Missouri DWI & Criminal Law Center at the Benjamin Law Firm, LLC
Phone: 816-318-7943
Offices in Kansas City and Belton, Missouri

DNA evidence may change outcome in 1984 case

Missouri residents likely know that DNA testing can be crucial in solving a criminal case. However, in 1984, DNA testing was not available to help a defendant create reasonable doubt. A woman convicted of killing her husband in February of that year is hoping that such evidence can help to prove her innocence. She is currently serving a life sentence as a result of that conviction.

The woman claimed that she awoke to a loud noise on the morning of Feb. 18, 1984. She also said that someone had grabbed her by the hair but had left because of her incessant crying. An investigation found a rifle owned by the family in a pond and in close proximity to boot prints. Those prints were from boots that the woman owned. Prosecutors also pointed to a life insurance policy as well as comments she made implying that she wanted her husband dead.

Even if DNA testing is allowed to take place, it may not be enough to overturn a conviction. This is because evidence was not collected with the intent to preserve DNA evidence. Furthermore, the conviction was based on evidence that may not weaken the assertion that she had the motive and opportunity to commit the crime. The appellate court that heard arguments about possible DNA testing could rule at any time.

A person who is charged with murder may have many ways to dispute the charge. An attorney may point to a lack of evidence against the defendant or seek to have evidence suppressed. Either tactic may weaken a prosecutor's case and create doubt in the mind of a juror. This may be enough to obtain an acquittal or have the case dismissed before it can get to a jury.

Source: KCTV, "Court battle to test evidence for DNA in 35-year-old Missouri murder case", Angie Ricono, 05/10/2019

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