Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Back to the DNA

See, there's this necklace. It was found on the neck of the body of Angel Vincent who, it seems, was strangled to death. Next Tuesday, the state of Ohio plans to murder Darryl Durr for Vincent's murder. Durr wants the necklace tested for DNA. It may exculpate him. It may identify the actual killer. Ohio refuses.

Last week, I explained that a prisoner in Ohio whose statutory request for DNA testing is denied in the trial court has an automatic right to appeal that denial. Unless the prisoner is on death row.

The prisoner on death row has a right to ask permission to appeal.

Darryl Durr did. The courts said "No."

Today, Durr filed a lawsuit asking that the statute be declared unconstitutional, that the necklace be tested, and that his execution be stayed so that those things can be done. (Disclosure: I'm one of the several attorneys on the case, though not lead counsel.) Links to the ACLU press release and major case documents are here.

More news as it develops.


  1. If your man's DNA is found, then nothing changes.
    If no DNA is found (as is likely the case), then nothing changes...?
    If another person's DNA is found, then your man is off death row.

    The opinion (which you failed to quote on your blog) states that the necklace has been handled and there is a strong possibility of contamination.

    The custody of the evidence is suspect. But that doesn't mean he didn't do it. I'm going to go out on a limb and (having not read your case) assume that there was testimony which resulted in defendant's conviction.

    In short, I have strong doubts as to whether this would do anything for your client other than keep him alive for number of months it takes to do a DNA analysis. But, I'd say grant it and order that the testing be done expeditiously in this case. If they find his DNA (VERY unlikely) then it will be settled. If they don't (and they won't), then I don't see how it can change anything except to open the door for an argument that because the (lack of) DNA is inconclusive, the state should not execute him.

  2. I see nothing wrong with death penalty. Let the punishment fit the crime, I say. My objections are:

    Given the state of our criminal justice system, which is charitably less than perfect, I can't see anyone qualifying as being found absolutely guilty beyond the shadow of any doubt (reasonable or not).

    The method of execution in Ohio is tortuous; it is not humane at all and never has been.

    I'm glad you're working to defend this man.