DA: Convictions solid
Review of thousands of cases shows none need revisited
BY TREVOR HUGHES
Local prosecutors have concluded that no old convictions based on circumstantial evidence need to be revisited in light of new DNA testing techniques.
District Attorney Larry Abrahamson announced the review of thousands of cases shortly after a special judge on Jan. 22 freed Timothy Masters from a 1999 murder conviction.
A jury sent Masters to prison for life, based entirely on circumstantial evidence tying him to the 1987 stabbing death of Peggy Hettrick. Masters was freed in large part because new DNA tests pointed toward another suspect in the case, a man who had initially been cleared by police.
Per longstanding local policy, prosecutors and police kept pieces of Hettrick's clothing for the intervening decades, and new tests paid for by Masters showed no physical connection to him.Abrahamson said his prosecutors examined 3,242 cases, ultimately narrowing the list to 36 that met his criteria: identity was an issue, the convict was still incarcerated, the conviction was based on circumstantial evidence, and DNA evidence still existed.
After pulling those files, Abrahamson said none of them seemed to fit the criteria.