How many times in these posts have I wondered why they don't just (and excuse me as I go into all caps shouting mode here, but it's pure frustration)
TEST THE FUCKING DNAThat's a rhetorical question, of course. And along with esthetics, that's why I didn't add a question mark. The answer (and no, I'm not going to look up the particular number) is that I've wondered a boatload of times. More important than how often I've asked is the underlying question.
Why won't they?Nothing rhetorical about that. It's a real, serious question that deserves a serious answer. So here it is:
Cause they don't wanna.And they don't wanna because
It might undermine the whole project. Bring it all spinning out of control. Reveal that the emperor is not only naked but just a sniveling little kid terrified of the monsters hiding under the bed.But if you've stuck with this blawg for a while now, you know I've traveled that way, as I said, a boatload of times. And so I didn't write about Tryone Noling last week when the Ohio Supreme Court held oral argument (video of which I've embedded at the bottom so you can watch it in all its glory or whatever).
I've written about Noling's case before. (Here and here and especially here.) Here's the plot. Noling is on death row for the 1990 murders of Cora and Bearnhardt Hartig in their home. It's a crime he says, and always has said, he didn't commit. The only real evidence against him came from three witnesses who've recanted. There's another witness, though. Nathan Chesley. The prosecutors spent over a decade hiding Chesley, but he told them back in 1990 that Daniel Wilson (since executed by the state of Ohio) was the actual killer. He knew Wilson, said it's the sort of thing Wilson would have done, and says that Wilson actually confessed to him.
How credible is Chesley? Hard to say since his testimony has never been presented in open court and subject to cross examination. Of course, had the prosecutors obeyed their duty to turn over any evidence favorable to the defense before trial, the evidence would have been tested just that way. Or had they not successfully opposed a motion for new trial based on the evidence.
Still, we are where we are. And where we are is in the Ohio Supreme Court because of another piece of maybe evidence.
See, there's this cigarette butt the police recovered from the victims' driveway. It was tested for DNA. Not Noling's. Which, of course, proves nothing. Noling wants it tested to see if it's got Wilson's DNA on it. They can do that, since Wilson's DNA is in a state database. Noling's been asking for the test for a few years now. The state's been refusing just as long. Then Governor Ted and Attorney General Richard Cordray asked. The state turned them down, too.
The state says it ain't gonna.
The state's argument is that there's no point in testing the butt for Wilson's DNA because even if it's there, that doesn't prove he was inside the house and murdered the Hartigs. After all, it's far more likely that the confessed killer is innocent but happened to drive by the house that day and toss the butt out the car window.
Besides, the prosecutors say, Noling's just trying to stall, to drag out the time before he gets killed. While we, the good prosecutors of Portage County just want to get on with it. And to make sure that he can't stop the execution for a month or two while the DNA testing is done, we'll spend years fighting to make sure it isn't.
Cause we don't wanna.Here's the bottom line. There's no credible evidence that Tyrone Noling murdered the Hartigs. That doesn't mean he didn't do it, of course. There's some evidence, maybe credible and maybe not, that Daniel Wilson killed them. There's a piece of evidence, easily tested, that might lend strong support to the claim that Wilson is the killer. And if the only real reason not to test it is
We don't wanna and we don't havetawell, that's not really good enough.
I keep asking
Where's the harm?And of course there's really only one reason. Because it might just tend to show that they put an innocent man on death row, cheated to get him there, and want to make damn sure that they get him killed before anyone finds out that they really fucked up.
What's the downside?
WHY NOT JUST TEST THE FUCKING DNA?
That's heartbreaking. It's also something very like cold-blooded, carefully-calculated-and-calibrated murder.
The Columbus 7 can stop it. They can order the testing. The butt stops there.
Expect a decision sometime in the Spring.