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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.
Thousands of innocent people are released from incarceration every year. Most of them are released because they served their sentences. Between 5k and 10k people are wrongfully convicted each year. The Univ. of Mich. Law School Innocence Clinic says most wrongful convictions are caused by: Eyewitness Misidentification Junk Science False Confessions Government Misconduct Snitches Bad Lawyering The U.S. Supreme Court has not determined that actually innocent people have a right to have their post-conviction evidence considered by courts. We will consider it on this show and make a human rights demand.
JennyNJerry Boone, Founders of the M N M Missing N Murdered (M-N-M) group and hosts of the MissingNMurdered BlogTalkRadio show. They are advocates for victims and their families. Tonight JennyNJerry will be joined by Gloria Denton, mother of April Beth Pitzer missing for 10 years; Dennis Crowley, missing person's advocate; and Maureen A. Reintjes, NamUs Victim Advocate - Kansas; Founder of Peace for Missing and Unidentified Persons; and Promoter Help Find the Missing Act - Billy's Law (Federal) - http://missing.ning.com. ABOUT JENNYnJERRY BOONE: Jenny and Jerry got started working with the loved one of the missing and murdered as a ripple effect of this world. Jenny found herself thrust into it after her sister, Jean, who was pregnant at the time, and brother-in-law, David, were violently murdered on Saturday, March 31, 1979. They were on their way home to spend Easter with their family to share their wonderful news, they were going to have a baby. CONTACT THE BOONES VIA EMAIL: email@example.com
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.