Court to decide if murder victim’s clothes to be DNA tested
TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - The Wyandotte Co. Court has been ordered to hear arguments on whether a murder victim’s clothes with possible DNA evidence should be tested or not.
The Kansas Supreme Court says that in the matter of Appeal No. 124,071: State of Kansas v. Patrick Angelo Jr., it affirmed part and reversed part of a summary denial for Angelo’s petition for post-conviction DNA testing.
Court records indicate that Angelo was convicted of two counts of first-degree murder in Wyandotte Co. in 2005. He petitioned for DNA testing of several items in evidence - including the victim’s clothes - under state law.
The Court noted that the statute requires a district court to order DNA testing of biological material when the material meets threshold requirements for testing and DNA results may produce evidence that would clear a defendant.
In an opinion written by Justice K.J. Wall, the Court said it affirmed the district court’s summary denial of Angelo’s petition as to the items of evidence he attempted to have tested other than the victim’s clothes. This decision was made as any potential biological matter on those items did not meet requirements.
However, the Court said it did reverse the district court’s ruling that DNA testing of any presumed biological material on the clothing could not produce exculpatory evidence.
The Court said it also recognized that the parties disputed whether biological material was actually present on the clothes and that the factual dispute had not been resolved due to a lack of clarity regarding proper procedures.
Thus, the Court indicated that it interpreted state law to clarify the statute creates a three-step process that leads to a district court’s decision on whether to order testing.
First, the Court said the inmate’s petition must allege that biological material exists and satisfies the threshold statutory requirements for testing. Second, once the state has notice of the petition, it is required to preserve any remaining biological material that it previously secured in connection to the case and identify it in its response.
Finally, the Court said if the parties agree that biological material meeting the threshold requirement exists, then they can proceed to argue whether testing is necessary. If the parties dispute, it said they can present evidence to the district court for appropriate fact-finding.
In the latter situation, the Court noted that the petitioner bears the burden to prove the existence of such biological material.
Now, the Court indicated it has remanded the case to the district court for further proceedings consistent with the process outlined in the opinion.
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