Gov. Warner Orders DNA Testing of Old Cases to Determine and Free the Innocent

The Washington Post reports that two more Virginia inmates convicted of rape, one of whom served 20 years before being released, have been determined to be factually innocent based on new DNA testing. The testing in one of the cases produced a "cold hit" to the true perpetrators.

The revelations are the result of modern-day testing Warner ordered more than a year ago of biological samples that had been collected in thousands of violent criminal cases dating back to the 1970s and 1980s. Those samples were collected before leaps in the forensic science.

Now that those tests have revealed that two more innocent men were jailed, Warner is ordering all of the files and others in state custody-- about 660 boxes that contain thousands of cases from 1973 through 1988 -- to be examined for cases that can be retested using the latest DNA technology.

The testing was conducted during a random sample review of 31 cases purusant to an order issued by Gov. Warner last year. In other words, it weren't requested by the inmates, who had since served their time and been released. Kudos to Governor Warner for ordering testing on more cases today.

In his statement released this afternoon, Gov. Warner says it's the morally correct thing to do:

"I believe a look back at these retained case files is the only morally acceptable course, and what truth they can bring only bolsters confidence in our system. Our Department of Forensic Science has taken an impartial, scientific, and unrelenting approach to this review, and I commend their effort."

Prosecutors in the two cases reported today have asked him to issue expedited and complete pardons to the men. How many more are there?

Virginia has executed more people than any other state except Texas since capital punishment was reinstated in 1976. But its judicial system has been rocked in the last several years by exonerations from DNA testing in several high-profile cases.

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  • i hope more follow his lead

    Re: Gov. Warner Orders DNA Testing of Old Cases t (none / 0) (#2)
    by Johnny on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:07:02 PM EST
    Why is Governor Warner soft on crime? Does he hate America? *sarcasm*

    Re: Gov. Warner Orders DNA Testing of Old Cases t (none / 0) (#3)
    by cpinva on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:07:02 PM EST
    one of the few days i am proud to be a native-born virginian. gov. warner has done much to clean up the financial mess left by his republican predecessor as well. hopefully, mr. kaine will continue and expand the policies started by mr. warner.

    cpinva: I gotta ask, what financial mess left by the previous gov? I've been here for over 20 yrs, and It has been one of the fiscally run states who ever has been in office.