Nebraska high court denies man's DNA test request

by jeeg 23. March 2014 19:39

 The Nebraska Supreme Court on Friday nixed a request for DNA testing of evidence gathered in the case of a man serving life in prison for shooting another man to death at an Omaha restaurant drive-thru.

Antoine Young, 40, was convicted in 2008 of first-degree murder and a weapons count for the death of 33-year-old Ray Webb, who was shot in August 2007 as he sat in his car in a Taco Bell drive-thru.

Young appealed last year after a Douglas County District Court in 2012 denied his request to conduct DNA testing on a black sweat shirt found at the scene. The court also denied Young's request for a new forensic testing technique called Cartridge Electrostatic Recovery and Analysis (CERA), which tests the body oils that make up fingerprints left on spent shell casings.

Young maintains that the testing will show that any genetic material on those items did not come from him.

Young has maintained his innocence, saying he was not present at the shooting and had spent the day at a family gathering. He was convicted based on testimony from several eyewitnesses who said Young walked up to Webb's car and shot him.

Young's request for DNA testing hinges on a 2001 Nebraska law that requires the state to test DNA evidence if it is likely to produce evidence that someone else committed the crime.

On Friday, the Nebraska Supreme Court said Young did not meet the requirements of the state's DNA testing law. Those requirements include that the defendant must show that such testing was effectively not available at the time of trial and that the biological material has been retained in such a way to safeguard its physical integrity.

Young did not request DNA testing of the sweat shirt at his 2008 trial and offered no evidence that such testing was not available at the time of his trial, the high court said.

As for testing of the shell casings, "there is no evidence that the proposed CERA test is in fact a DNA test," Nebraska Supreme Court Justice Michael McCormack wrote for the court. Young also failed to present evidence that the test was not available at the time of his trial, the high court said.

"The DNA Testing Act gives inmates access to evolving scientific technology, but it was not intended to allow an inmate a second chance to perform DNA testing which was available at trial," McCormack wrote.

Tracy Hightower-Henne, an attorney for Young, said Friday's decision did not come as a shock.

"DNA cases, in general, are tough to win," she said.

The Nebraska Attorney General's Office did not immediately respond to a request Friday for comment.

Associated Press


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