Sunday, March 16, 2003

This editorial concludes that Virginia ought to allow further testing of the DNA evidence in the Roger Coleman murder case. Coleman was convicted in Buchanan County, sentenced to death, and executed after his habeas corpus efforts were denied. Judge Nicholoas Persin presided over the trial, Judge Glen Williams heard the federal habeas petition. The case is the subject of this book by John Tucker, spouse of William & Mary law professor Jayne Barnard. As reported here, a New Jersey group has petitioned Governor Warner to allow further DNA testing.

Mr. Coleman was convicted in 1982 and executed in 1992. In denying habeas relief, Judge Williams observed that post-conviction DNA analysis by noted expert Edward Blake (best known for his role in the O.J. case) in 1990 added to, rather than contradicted, the evidence of Coleman's guilt. Dr. Blake and others now contend that further testing of samples retained by Blake using more modern techniques would prove that Coleman was innocent, as reported here.

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