Brian Russell of Audio Activism down in North Carolina forwarded me some info on a case in NC about a man on trial to be executed May 12th, Jerry Connor. He was found guilty of murder and rape more than a decade ago. But DNA testing has improved since 1991 [when the original FBI tests were conducted in this case] and additionally
The SBI [State Bureau of Investigation] agent in charge of handling, preparing and transmitting the 1991 DNA to the FBI was Brenda Bissette, an agent who was forced to resign from the SBI lab for mishandling DNA evidence in up to 50 cases. Although the SBI has agreed to conduct re-testing in "any case that Bissette handled," the State is opposing Mr. Conner’s request.According to this post on the blog keeping tabs on the defense case of Connor.
The blog recounts how Connor's confession was taken at the time of arrest under threats of the death penalty, I'm guessing implying that if he confessed, he wouldn't be killed.
The most recent post states that the judge sided with the District Attorney's request to deny additional DNA testing without discussion in open court. This single test could prove his innocence. Or, if positive, it would serve as the final strike and the state could go ahead with the execution with a more solid legal grounding with a more conclusive and technologically sound DNA test. Me, I'm against capital punishment altogether.
Brian knows and trusts one of the attorneys working on Connor's case. I know and trust Brian.
The Innocence Project is an organization which has found 175 cases overturned as of March 31, 2006. It does not seem they are involved in this case, but I immediately thought of them while reading about Connor. What they're about.
Brian has a great podcast interview up here.