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Nearly four decades after an Illinois man was initially convicted of the murders of a brother and sister in their home, a judge ruled that several pieces of evidence could undergo DNA testing, reported the Journal Star.
Johnnie Lee Savory spent 30 years behind bars before being released in 2006. Five years later, Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn commuted his sentence and ended his parole.
In Tuesday’s ruling, Peoria County Circuit Judge Steve Kouri said that the order doesn’t allow for a new trial and that DNA testing could be conducted at Savory’s own expense.
“This means hope for Johnnie,” said Joshua Tepfer, an attorney with the Northwestern University’s Center on Wrongful Convictions. “He has wanted this and fought for this and a team of advocates and friends have fought for this for more than 20 years, or since this technology became available.”
Savory, who has maintained his innocence, was tried twice. He was found guilty in the stabbing deaths of Connie Cooper, 19, and her brother, James Robinson, 14, in June 1977. His first conviction was overturned when the Third District Illinois Appellate Court ruled Savory’s alleged confession involuntary. He was retried in 1981 and found guilty again. Two years later, two of the witnesses recanted their testimony.
Among the pieces of evidence being tested are items the investigators deemed relevant to the case back in 1977. They include the purported murder weapon, a knife taken from Savory’s pants, the pants Savory was wearing, fingernail clippings from Copper and Robinson as well as a bloody light switch plate.
Kouri noted in his order that the blood evidence used against Savory was only able to identify the group type, which is far less probative than DNA.
“Type O blood type is found in approximately one in two people and Type A is in approximately one in three people,” Kouri wrote. “Can it be imagined that such rudimentary ‘scientific’ evidence would be presented and argued to a jury in a courtroom today, particularly in a double-homicide trial?”
The Center on Wrongful Convictions already has a Texas-based DNA testing firm lined up, and Tepfer is optimistic about the results.
If someone had told me a decade ago that the British government would deliberately starve my fellow countrymen in an attempt to bully them into slave labor jobs that wouldn’t even pay the bills, I would have laughed in their face.
A group of current and former Juvenile Corrections employees filed the lawsuit last year alleging that some staffers at a Nampa juvenile detention facility sexually abused incarcerated youths, and that agency leaders knew about the abuse but didn't effectively act to stop it. The court "has seen evidence in bulk showing that there is a culture of retaliation, a lack â€" a serious lack â€" of required safety under the juvenile corrections act, PREA (Prison Rape Elimination Act), Health and Welfare code," Schoppe said. [...] the sides have exchanged more than a million pages of evidentiary documents, he said, and police are currently investigating additional allegations of the sexual abuse of youths at the Nampa detention facility. Evidence suggests the regular sexual abuse of male youths by mostly female employees stretches back 15 years, Schoppe said.
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Former Lib Dem education minister Sarah Teather is going to stop eating in protest at the coalition government's "wilful indifference to the hunger of its citizens". Teather, the MP for Brent Central, said it was a "national scandal" that people in Britain were having to go hungry because they could not afford to buy food as well as pay for rent and heating.