Texas DA Opposes DNA Testing


The prosecutor in Waco, Texas is opposing a request by an inmate to have DNA evidence tested that could prove his innocence. The man was convicted before DNA testing was possible. Here are the facts of the case:

Waco attorney Walter M. Reaves filed a motion asking for the testing Wednesday. It is part of an effort to exonerate Anthony Melendez, the only living defendant in the 1982 slayings of three teenagers.

In the motion, Reaves argues the testing is warranted because DNA analysis was not available when Melendez was convicted. He pleaded guilty but has since recanted, claiming he falsely confessed because his lawyers told him he would almost certainly get the death penalty if he went to trial.

Waco attorney Walter M. Reaves filed a motion asking for the DNA testing in the Lake Waco trople murder case Wednesday. It is part of an effort to exonerate Anthony Melendez, the only living defendant in the 1982 slayings of three teenagers

The motion does not ask the state to pay for the DNA testing. It only asks that 54th State District Judge Matt Johnson order the testing be done.

And here’s the prosecutor’s position:

Reyna said every request for post-DNA conviction must be carefully considered.

But in general, he doesn’t support such testing because it overrides what a jury decided, he said.

Uh, yeah. That’s the whole point. And if the DA had any interest at all in justice rather than on maintaining the myth of judicial perfection, he would want wrong decisions by a jury to be overturned — both because an innocent man may have spent the last 3 decades in prison for a crime he didn’t commit and because it might mean the real murderer is still walking free. But the DA doesn’t give a damn about those things, he cares only about his career. And not only should that cost him his job, it should get him disbarred.

Comments

  1. gshelley says

    Assuming he really said that, is there any way of interpreting it that doesn’t basically boil down to “I’m against this sort of testing because it might show him to be innocent”?

  2. dingojack says

    So juries just magically know someone is innocent or guilty, they don’t judge based on only the evidence that is presented to them? Hell, isn’t it illegal for jurors to do their own investigation? And if the jurors aren’t given all the pertinent facts, and they aren’t allowed to find evidence or themselves, wouldn’t that cause them to misjudge the case (or at least make it ‘unsound’)?
    Yep – “don’t let the DNA in ’cause it might show that the state fucked up” looks like the only reason for blocking the new evidence.

  3. says

    He pleaded guilty but has since recanted, claiming he falsely confessed because his lawyers told him he would almost certainly get the death penalty if he went to trial.

    In case anyone needed yet another reason to oppose the death penalty, here’s you go: it allows prosecutors to extort confessions from innocent people by threatening to have them killed.

  4. Francisco Bacopa says

    This little quote from Quine is relevant:

    The desire to be right and the desire to have been right are two desires, and the sooner we separate them the better off we are.

  5. says

    This isn’t surprising. Hasn’t Texas been opposed to all learning and technology that’s occurred since the invention of the internal-combustion enging?

  6. Pieter B says

    every request for post-DNA conviction

    I think I know what the reporter meant to write, but WTF?

  7. slc1 says

    But the DA doesn’t give a damn about those things, he cares only about his career.

    Is the DA here the same individual who was involved in the original prosecution? Seems rather doubtful after 30 years.

    However, as I have commented on several occasions here, this is only part of the motivation. What DA’s are also concerned with is that the publicity that ensues after exonerations after convictions will make juries more reluctant to convict defendants, and impose capital punishment in death penalty cases, thus making their job and that of the investigative agencies harder.

  8. Hercules Grytpype-Thynne says

    This little quote from Quine is relevant:

    The desire to be right and the desire to have been right are two desires, and the sooner we separate them the better off we are.

    And there is your kickass quote of the week.

  9. Aquaria says

    Because 12 people who aren’t smart enough to get out of a jury are better than objective evidence.

    sigh

    Smart people refusing to do something so simple as to do their part to ensure every accused person has a fair trial is the reason why so many of these juries make moronic decisions. dipshit.

    Go to jury duty. Do your part to make sure DA’s stop getting away with this crap. If you don’t, YOU are the fucking problem.

  10. Aquaria says

    This isn’t surprising. Hasn’t Texas been opposed to all learning and technology that’s occurred since the invention of the internal-combustion enging?

    Unless it has to do with getting fossil fuels out of the ground.

    Or making sure that there are enough lawyers to keep the brown people in line.

  11. carolw says

    Thank you, Aquaria @ 13. When I got called for jury duty, I was proud to go. I ended up being eliminated from the jury pool, but I would have gladly sat, and would do it again. And I’m in Texas.

  12. says

    Aquaria,

    Perhaps I should rephrase that to give the true method of jury selection.

    Twelve people who are too smart and therefore eliminated by the jury selection process.

    I would also suggest you calm down. I’ve been called on three juries in my 20 years of being on voting age. Twice within the first 12 people (therefore, unless specifically eliminated by a lawyer, I’m sure to be on the jury). The first question is usually what do you do for a living? I reply ‘science teacher’ (a few years ago) or ‘science researcher’ now (more or less). No further questions and thanks for showing up, there’s the door.

    I’ll also add this to your collection. It’s from a lawyer. “If you are innocent, do not request a trial by jury. If you are guilty, then always request a trial by jury.”

    The basis for this (besides 25 years experience) is that juries are easily swayed by rhetoric and not very cognizant of things like DNA testing (when available).

    The problem isn’t with me. It’s with the freaking system. If not all the available evidence is considered then justice cannot happen. If prosecutors can make up evidence and not get in trouble for it, then justice cannot happen. If cops can fake evidence, plant drugs on an innocent, etc and not get in trouble for it, then justice cannot happen.

    Our justice system is fundamentally broken. Only a small part of the problem is the average idiocy of the population (in general or in Texas specifically).

  13. says

    It’s revenge, that’s all. The American justice system is not about justice, it’s about revenge. Ensuring someone takes the fall for a crime. It doesn’t matter if they did it or not, so long as someone’s sitting in a box at the end of the day, waiting for poison to be pumped through their veins, the justice system is happy.

    It’s fucked up.

  14. Francisco Bacopa says

    This isn’t surprising. Hasn’t Texas been opposed to all learning and technology that’s occurred since the invention of the internal-combustion enging?

    No, we love the high tech. We’ve even got an official State Molecule, The Buckeyball. We just haven’t been too interested in educating people in basic science to replace our industrial and scientific labor force. It was not always so. Texas had a great leap forward from 1959-1987 in civil rights and education. Somewhere it all went wrong.

    We’ve mostly brain draining the rest of the world to sustain ourselves, but with our current reputation I don’t think we can keep doing that much longer. The legislature seems intent on turning us into a third world country.

  15. The Christian Cynic says

    Actually, there’s more to that Quine quote (which isn’t solely his, but I digress) that adds to its force:

    The desire to be right and the desire to have been right are two desires, and the sooner we separate them the better off we are. The desire to be right is the thirst for truth. On all counts, both practical and theoretical, there is nothing but good to be said for it. The desire to have been right, on the other hand, is the pride that goeth before a fall. It stands in the way of our seeing we were wrong, and thus blocks the progress of our knowledge.

    (W.V.O. Quine and J.S. Ullian, The Web of Belief)

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