January 9, 2008
Evidence Discovered of Prosecutor Wanting to Downplay Evidence in Innocent Man's trial
From jacksonville.com: Only weeks before Chad Heins' murder trial in 1996,
a Jacksonville prosecutor sent a memo asking a state crime lab
supervisor to downplay findings that stray hairs found on the victim's
body came from an unknown person.
"I need to structure your testimony carefully so as to convince the jury that the unknown hairs are insignificant," Assistant State Attorney Stephen Bledsoe wrote in a letter recently obtained by the Times-Union.
In December 1996, a jury convicted Heins of the first-degree murder of his sister-in-law in her Mayport apartment. He was sentenced to life in prison until new DNA tests led to his release last month.
Bledsoe's letter was among thousands of pages of documents examined by Heins' lawyers after a judge allowed re-testing of DNA in the case. Although the attorneys don't believe it affected the outcome of the case, the letter shows a "cavalier disregard for the actual evidence," said Jennifer Greenberg, policy director of the Innocence Project of Florida, which worked for Heins' release.
"It actually made my stomach
turn," Greenberg said Tuesday. "This is not a game. This is justice.
These are people's lives and they matter and the truth matters." Rest of Article. . . [Mark Godsey]
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