The availability of DNA evidence has dramatically affected criminal appeals in Missouri and across the country. It has made it much easier to challenge convictions, as the evidence from DNA has shown that other evidence used to obtain convictions, including eyewitness evidence, can be wrong.
In Missouri, a 56-year-old man who has convicted of capital murder and other charges stemming from a 1982 rape and homicide is expected to be released from prison tomorrow. Evidence that weighted in his favor was apparently withheld from him at the time of his trial,
DNA testing was of course not available at the time of the man's original trial. He was arrested, it seems, simply because he looked like another suspect. Eventually, under questioning, he confessed to the crime. But no physical evidence ever linked him to the crime.
Last week, the St. Louis Circuit Attorney's Office determined that it would not seek to retry the man on rape and murder charges. But the Missouri Attorney General's Office said it would appeal the decision by the court that overturned the original conviction.
According to media sources, the circuit judge is likely to sign an order in the case tomorrow morning. The order would direct the man's release on his own recognizance until the appeal brought by the Missouri Attorney General's office can be resolved.
Not all cases involving DNA evidence have such dramatic developments. Clearly, however, the availability of such evidence has been a gamechanger in criminal cases not only in Missouri but throughout the U.S.
Source: "U City Man To Be Released From Prison, Appeal Goes On," Fox2now, 11-13-12
Our firm handles situations similar to those discussed in this post. To learn more about our practice, please visit our Missouri criminal appeals page.