Thursday, August 30, 2018
The pertinent portion of Montana's postconviction DNA testing statute, Mont. Code Ann. § 46-21-110(5)(b), states that
The court shall grant the petition if it determines that the petition is not made for the purpose of delay and that:...
the identity of the perpetrator of the felony was or should have been a significant issue in the case.
So, where does that leave pleading defendants?
In State v. DeAvila, No. DA 12-0380, 2013 WL 512695 (Mont., Feb. 12, 2013), Steve DeAvila unsuccessfully sought to withdraw his plea to kidnapping and related charges due to mental health issues and later sought postconviction DNA testing. In finding that DeAvila wasn’t entitled to DNA testing, the Supreme Court of Montana concluded that “[i]dentity is not an issue when the defendant admits to committing the act, as DeAvila did in this case."