CrimProf Blog

Editor: Kevin Cole
Univ. of San Diego School of Law

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Wisconsin: State Supreme Court Grants a New Trial Based on Newly Available DNA Tests

From Madison, WI (AP): "The State Supreme Court has thrown out the conviction of a man found guilty of killing a college student in 1980, citing new DNA tests that undercut key prosecution evidence.  The court ruled 4-3 Tuesday that Ralph Armstrong deserved a new trial after new testing done by his defense team showed he was not the source of hair and semen found at the murder scene.  Dane County District Attorney Brian Blanchard said he planned to retry Armstrong after piecing together the evidence from the 25-year-old murder.  Armstrong has been serving a life sentence for the 1980 murder of 19-year-old Charise Kamps, whose bloodied body was found in her apartment.

Attorney Jerome Buting, who led Armstrong's appeal, said evidence about blood and semen held the prosecution's case together. Without it, he said, the rest of the case was circumstantial.  Technology at the time was not sophisticated enough to pinpoint the source of hair, semen and blood found at the scene. During trial, experts testified two hairs found on the bathrobe tie were consistent with Armstrong's and he could not be eliminated as the source of the semen on the robe.  But the court, in Tuesday's (July 12) ruling, noted that DNA tests ruled out Armstrong as the source of the semen. 'If the State's theory is correct, that the semen is from the murderer ... then that person is not Armstrong,' Justice Louis Butler wrote for the court." Story... [Mark Godsey]

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