MT Attorney General Asserts Guilt Despite DNA Exoneration

Jimmy Ray Bromgard was convicted of rape and later exonerated by DNA evidence and released from prison.

Montana Attorney General Mike McGrath continues to assert he believes Bromgard to be guilty.

It's not even a case of the unidentified co-ejaculator.

In most of the cases where prosecutors have refused to believe in an exoneration, they have cited evidence that more than one person was involved in the crime to argue that the DNA was left by a second, unidentified offender. It is rare for a prosecutor to dispute a DNA exoneration when there is no evidence -- as in Bromgard's case -- that more than one person committed the crime.


The DA who agreed to Bromguard's release:

Paxinos, informed of McGrath's views, said, "I had [Bromgard] cut loose because his DNA did not match the DNA in the case. He could not be the perpetrator unless you believed the 8-year-old was having sex with multiple men. That would be far-fetched."

McGrath's speculation:

McGrath, testifying in a deposition taken in a lawsuit brought by Bromgard, cited several possibilities, including that the victim was sexually active with someone else or that her 11-year-old sister was sexually active while wearing her younger sister's underwear.

The veteran prosecutor also suggested that the DNA could have been from the child's father and that the girl's parents had sex on their daughter's bed and left DNA, or that the father assaulted the girl.

The victim's father is outraged:

The victim's father, whose identity is being withheld to protect the identity of the victim, accused McGrath of making "reckless statements that will cause more harm to the victim and her family. ... Needless to say, we are deeply offended by his remarks. Deeply offended."

Bromgard's attorney, Peter Neufeld of the Innocence Project, says:

McGrath's answers [are] "the most remote, absurd, speculative theories to explain evidence that otherwise ... exonerates Mr. Bromgard."

Consider the evidence that convicted Bromgard: eyewitness identification, which is the largest cause of wrongful convictions, and the testimony of a since discredited lab examiner:

Arnold Melnikoff, then-director of the Montana state crime lab, who said hairs on the girl's bed were similar to Bromgard's hair. Testimony from Melnikoff, who no longer works at the lab, was later determined to be false in the Bromgard case. Lawyers for Bromgard then requested a review and retesting of hair evidence in every Melnikoff case.

As the State's Attorney General, McGrath's comments appear to be truly irresponsible and damaging to criminal justice.

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  • Display: Sort:
    Prosecutorial Mindset (none / 0) (#1)
    by NMRon on Mon May 28, 2007 at 04:51:05 PM EST
    Guilty at any cost.  It's irrelevant whether someone actually did the crime. If they were convicted they're guilty.

    Obligatory USA ref (none / 0) (#3)
    by manys on Mon May 28, 2007 at 05:02:18 PM EST
    What with the Regent U. graduate population at the DOJ, it was just a matter of time before the Intelligent Design mindset worked it's way around to DNA evidence. That the DNA proves anything is just like, you know...your opinion, man.

    Hmm... (none / 0) (#9)
    by mindfulmission on Tue May 29, 2007 at 01:46:33 PM EST
    Your comment might be valid if the Attorney General of Montana worked for the DOJ.  But he does not.

    A state Attorney General is elected by the people of that state, and does not work for the federal government.


    Joseph Wambaugh.... (none / 0) (#6)
    by jerry on Mon May 28, 2007 at 05:28:29 PM EST
    Joseph Wambaugh, in his novels made it clear that a detective's job wasn't to solve cases, but to clear them.

    He has written some great stuff by the way, pick his novels up if you get a chance.


    Except (none / 0) (#2)
    by NMRon on Mon May 28, 2007 at 04:51:59 PM EST
    if it's Scooter, of course.

    Unbelievable. (none / 0) (#4)
    by RSA on Mon May 28, 2007 at 05:09:49 PM EST
    Given the (lack of) evidence, it seems just as likely that Montana Attorney General Mike McGrath himself committed the crime.

    This prosecutor needs to be fired (none / 0) (#5)
    by Dadler on Mon May 28, 2007 at 05:27:20 PM EST
    Obviously, the proper judicial and professional temperment and objectivity do not exist within his "intellect".

    i've noticed, (none / 0) (#7)
    by cpinva on Tue May 29, 2007 at 01:17:38 AM EST
    in these cases, where the "another, unidentified offender" assertion is made, by the prosecution, that the claim never arises during the original trial, or is even hinted at. it's almost always after DNA has led to the exoneration of the individual actually tried and convicted. why is that, do you suppose?

    rarely is there any indication that the police even suspected another party was involved, during the course of the original investigation. so where do all these other offenders come from?

    if mr. mcgrath truly believed this, was there an ongoing investigation, seeking that elusive, unidentified third party? i'm going out on a limb, and guessing the answer is no. i'll guess further that the case was closed as solved, when mr. bromgard was arrested, tried and convicted.

    just a guess.

    I thought prosecutors cared about victims (none / 0) (#8)
    by txpublicdefender on Tue May 29, 2007 at 10:57:42 AM EST
    The thing that cases like this expose about certain prosecutors is that they are not concerned with "getting justice for the victim," but with upholding their hard-fought conviction, no matter what.  How many times have we seen prosecutors defend a conviction after exonerating DNA results by essentially calling the victim a whore who could have had sex with a bunch of other people before being raped and murdered (See the case of Roy Criner in Texas, for an example).  Here, the AG is accusing the father of the murdered child of having raped his daughter, all in an effort to deny that the eyewitness was wrong.  Sick, sick, sick.