Friday, April 18, 2008

DNA evidence may clear accused Yogurt Shop Murders defendant

Defendants in Austin's famed 1991 "Yogurt Shop Murders" may wind up having their names added to Texans exonerated through retesting old DNA evidence, over strenuous prosecution objections, reports the Austin Chronicle:
A lawyer for yogurt shop defendant Robert Springsteen says that retested DNA evidence proves his client is not guilty and should be released from prison. In a writ filed Wednesday, attorney Joe James Sawyer argues that "new" DNA testing of a vaginal swab taken from victim Amy Ayers at the crime scene in 1991, requested by prosecutors, has revealed a previously undetected male DNA profile that does not match any of the four identified defendants. "This exonerates Defendant Springsteen and makes it clear someone else committed these murders," Sawyer wrote. (Download the full writ here.)
This case was a nightmare for investigators because of sparse evidence and more than 50 people confessing to the crime (including two of the four current defendants. Most of those who confessed, of course, were completely uninvolved in the crime. The state settled on these defendants based largely on two allegedly coerced confessions from these defendants (a video from one interview showed a detective holding a gun to a defendant's head.)

At least they kept the evidence to test. The judge approved additional testing by the defense, and more developments in this case should be forthcoming in the next few months.


Anonymous said...

The prosecutors in this case continue to insist that the DNA not matching any of the 4 original suspects (and two remaining defendants)does not exonerate them. It's time to let these men out of jail and get them back to their familes. Justice is not served by locking the wrong men up, no matter how much the DA's office wants to believe that it does.

Ron in Houston said...


You've really sparked my interest in false confessions. In my myopic view of the world, I wouldn't have thought they were so common.

Thanks for bringing that issue to light.

Anonymous said...

The state knew it owed justice to the girls and their families. For 8 years they failed to solve the crime. They were elated to find four guys who looked good for good that they are now unwilling to admit they screwed up, just as they screwed up with the Nancy DePriest Pizza Hut Murder. Texas, in its quest for justice, seems to do nothing but create more victims.

Anonymous said...

And in the end - it's the public, the tax payers, that are going to have to pay for it when these men are justly compensated for wrongful conviction. And it's the victim's families and the public that has had to pay because the real killers have never been caught.

Anonymous said...

Now there is a new DNA profile lets catch who really did this crime! This cry presumes the four are innocent or at least now there is the benefit of a reasonable doubt to over come. At a minimum Texas needs to find out who's DNA is there and why. Then they can put an end to prosecuting the wrong guys and/or move forward with a new trial. By the way just becasue there is someone elses DNA does not mean the four still are not guilty of the crime. Unfortunately, it does mean they will be viewed that way and will create a difficult if not impossible bar to overcome for the prosecution.

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