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TX: Swearingen defense requests more DNA tests
Mon Jun 16, 2014 14:59
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Swearingen defense requests more DNA tests
By Brandon K. Scott | Posted 3 hours ago

Attorneys for Larry Swearingen filed an amended motion last week to the 9th state District Court in Montgomery County for additional DNA testing in his capital murder case.

Swearingen was convicted and sentenced to death in 2000 for the killing of 19-year-old Montgomery College student Melissa Trotter.

Defense attorney James Rytting said biological material on various clothing items have been identified for testing, supported with a signed affidavit from a DNA expert.

Prosecutors contend that the decision on DNA testing already was made twice in rulings by the Texas Criminal Court of Appeals, which denied similar motions in 2010 and this past February.

Still, Rytting argues there could be evidence to support Swearingen’s claim he was not the last person with Trotter before she was brutally murdered.

“We have identified some very important facts that are clearly mistaken that change the way this DNA testing must be looked at,” Rytting said. “The law has changed, the facts have changed, and now we have additional evidence we believe Mr. Swearingen was not the last person with the victim -- that she was with someone else. They have the wrong person in jail.

“It’s not just the touch DNA, but we’ve identified through all the bench notes of DPS analysis, hair evidence that they described as appearing similar to body hair on various items of clothing -- the panties, shirt and socks. We want that tested. They can do mitochondria. They can look to see if they can get a full DNA profile depending on how the hair was removed. This isn’t just touch DNA.”

Trotter was last seen leaving the Montgomery College campus with Swearingen on Dec. 8, 1998. Her body was found by hunters in the Sam Houston National Forest Jan. 2, 1999, north of Lake Conroe.

A motion was filed in early March with the state of Texas for a tentative execution date of April 24, but Swearingen requested a hearing in the 9th state District Court of Judge Kelly Case the week of May 12.

Both the defense and prosecution await a decision by Case on whether more testing will be allowed.

Bill Delmore, appellate attorney with the Montgomery County District Attorney’s Office, said the issue should have been decided once the highest appellate court ruled.

“Right now, we’re just on hold waiting for Judge Case to do something,” Delmore said. “He could rule this afternoon, or maybe next week or maybe next month. I have no way of knowing. That ruling (by the Court of Criminal Appeals) controls all of the subsequent proceedings. So we told the 9th District Court that the decision of the Court of Criminal Appeals in 2010 is now the law of the case. The other side disagreed. In our view, it’s time to quit filing these successive motions, which appear to be for the purpose of delay. The name of the game when you’re defending someone who is under a death sentence is to drag everything out, stretch it out as long as you can and prevent that sentence from being carried out.

“On the other hand, it’s our view that we’ve been in constant litigation for more than 13 years. We’ve answered every claim they’ve advanced. We have resolved every doubt that ever existed and at this point, justice delayed is justice denied.”

http://www.yourhoustonnews.com/woodlands/news/swearingen-defense-requests-more-dna-tests/article_a702e755-adbd-5980-823c-89b99cd9ec3d.html?mode=jqm

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    • TX: Swearingen defense requests more DNA tests — Petra, Mon Jun 16 14:59
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              • SwearingenDudley Sharp, Sat Nov 4 08:37
                Petra: One of the strangest legal back and forths, ever, 19 years in the making.
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