Questions in the Pressly case | Arkansas Blog

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Questions in the Pressly case

Posted By on Tue, Dec 2, 2008 at 8:56 AM

David Goins at Fox 16 has been doing some bangup reporting on the Anne Pressly murder case.

A good example is a story he posted yesterday that ought to set off deeper consideration of the state Crime Lab, both as to resources and procedures.

You know by now that the case was broken by the matchup of DNA gathered in the Pressly case with DNA gathered in an April rape in Marianna. But, only when the DNA was processed by the state Crime Lab in the Marianna case -- seven months after it was submitted -- did the Marianna police come to know that their original rape suspect was not the man they were looking for. Their change of focus led them to Curtis Vance, a suspect in several burglaries, and that in turn led the Little Rock police to Marianna, where Vance voluntarily provided DNA that led to his arrest in Little Rock. (Marianna Detective Carl McCree is an unsung hero of this case.)

Had the Marianna police gotten their DNA processed faster than seven months, would it have led to an earlier arrest of Vance in that rape case? Could he have been arrested and jailed before KATV anchor Anne Pressly was fatally beaten Oct. 20 in Little Rock?

A Crime Lab official insists to Goins it would have made no difference. But he offfers no explanation to defend that point of view.

What's more, the explanation Crime Lab director Kermit Channell offered for the length of time processing the Marianna case versus a much faster turnaround on the fatal beating of Pressly, a high-profile TV anchor, was, at best, unfortunate. At worst, you don't have to think long to be outraged.

In Pressly's case the time to process DNA was a lot quicker because Channell says violent cases with no suspects get moved to the front.

“So if we have a case and we know that it’s very brutal and law enforcement doesn't know who the perpetrator is there's a risk to the community of someone at large," Channell says.

Rape is not a violent crime? People in Marianna should breathe easy during the seven-month wait because the police think they know a rapist, but must allow him to remain on the street until the DNA report comes back? There's no risk?

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