Experts at legislative hearing recommend Texas preserve DNA after convictions

By Will Weissert


Published: 8:04 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 22, 2011

Texas authorities should keep biological evidence whenever possible even in criminal cases where defendants plead guilty because DNA tests could one day exonerate those convicted, experts told a panel of state lawmakers Tuesday.

The Criminal Jurisprudence Committee is studying Texas procedures for performing DNA tests and recommending ways to improve them. Members gathered following the case of Michael Morton, who wrongfully spent nearly 25 years behind bars for the 1987 beating death of his wife.

Morton was released Oct. 4 and his conviction was subsequently overturned after tests on a bloody bandana found near his home outside Austin revealed another man's DNA. The techniques used weren't available during Morton's original trial, but once they were, prosecutors spent years arguing the bandana wasn't relevant in the case.

After Morton was exonerated, police arrested a new suspect in his wife's slaying and said that man might be linked to a chillingly similar killing in the area in January 1988.

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