The McLennan County District Attorney’s office will oppose a request for new DNA testing in the decades-old Lake Waco triple murders case.Remarkably, DA Abel Reyna said he prefers erroneous jury decisions over facts if they prove innocence:
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 teenagersThe 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.
Reyna said every request for post-DNA conviction must be carefully considered.That seems like a bizarre stance for someone charged in state law with seeking justice. If the jury convicted an innocent person, their decision should be overridden. In any event, the Texas Legislature this year eliminated most grounds for prosecutors to oppose post-conviction DNA testing where the results might be probative, so I expect the DA's opposition will fail and the testing will eventually go forward.
But in general, he doesn’t support such testing because it overrides what a jury decided, he said.
When Reyna was elected he announced he intended to model how he ran his office on John Bradley's shop in Williamson County and hired one of Bradley's prosecutors as his first assistant. So it's not surprising to see him fighting DNA testing, just like John Bradley did for years in the Michael Morton case. But it's remarkable that he'd mimic Bradley's stance on post-conviction DNA testing after all that's happened recently in Williamson County. He's unlikely to prevail in court and if the DNA evidence proves exculpatory, Mr. Reyna will find himself in the crosshairs just like his role model from a few miles south down I-35.
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