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Univ. of San Diego School of Law

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Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Kansas Man Granted Hearing on DNA Tests

Merrill Andrews was convicted of murder in 1977 and sentenced to life in prison. Having been granted parole in 1999, Andrews is now requesting DNA tests in order to prove his innocence. Although he is currently serving a 10-year sentence for an unrelated crime, Andrews maintains his innocence in the 1977 murder of Nola Babb, a 91-year-old retired businesswoman in Wichita.

Andrews’ request for DNA testing was denied by a Sedgewick County judge, who thought Andrews was misusing a 2001 DNA state law that grants anybody convicted of rape or murder a hearing regarding any forensic evidence relevant to the case. But the Kansas Court of Appeals overruled that decision and ordered the lower court to hold a hearing on Andrews’ request. The hearing will take place later this month.

According to Deputy District Attorney Ann Swegle, the DNA testing law is rarely used in Sedgewick County, and there might be issues with evidence preservation:

"My understanding is that they keep it forever now," she said. "I'm not sure that's always been the case."

Carl Maughan, Andrews’ attorney, said his client has consistently maintained his innocence.

"Yes, he's already done his time, but if you were accused of murder and you were the wrong guy, I would assume you'd want to clear your name," Maughan said. "He just maintains that he's innocent on this charge and wants to get it cleared up."

Read the full story here. (Wichita Eagle, 1/4/09)

Read about previous exonerees in Kansas, Joe Jones and Eddie James Lowery.

Does your state have a law granting access to DNA testing? View our interactive map.

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