Supreme Court orders review of two cases because of tainted evidence | Arkansas Blog

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Supreme Court orders review of two cases because of tainted evidence

Posted By on Thu, Oct 20, 2016 at 11:22 AM

click to enlarge EUGENE PITTS
  • EUGENE PITTS
An FBI task force's finding of improper work by a lab technician has led to Arkansas Supreme Court-ordered reviews of two convictions — a capital murder and a rape.

The court ordered a Pulaski circuit court review in the 1980 conviction of Eugene Isaac Pitts for capital felony murder in the slaying of Dr. Bernard Jones. One piece of evidence was hair identified by FBI technician Michael Malone as having identical characteristics to Pitts' hair. He was one of 13 technicians found by the FBI task force to have done work that failed to meet professional standards. The task force notified defendants in their cases and told them that prosecutors had agreed the testimony was important in the cases.

As a result, the court gave Pitts permission to seek relief through a rarely used writ of error coram nobis. It allows a defendant to bring up an issue that, through no fault of his own, he was unable to bring up at trial.

click to enlarge LONNIE STRAWHACKER
  • LONNIE STRAWHACKER
The court made a similar order in the case of Lonnie Strawhacker, convicted of rape in Washington County in 1990. Malone also testified in this case. A woman beaten and raped and left in a ditch outside a nightclub identified Strawhacker by his voice . Malone testified that a pubic hair found on Strawhacker's jeans was "absolutely indistinguishable" from the victim's. He did equivocate on the reliability of the test for identification, however.

The Supreme Court acknowledged that it was expanding the grounds on which such writs could be issued, but said it "was necessary to ensure due process and to provide a state remedy where none exists." If the circuit court finds the testimony was material, "Strawhacker is entitled to relief."

Tags: , , , ,

From the ArkTimes store

Favorite

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

More by Max Brantley

  • Open line and Civil War update

    More Confederacy defenders were on hand in Bentonville against imagined threats to a one of hte Confederate statues put up long after the Civil War to spin a narrative about the noble Lost Cause.
    • Aug 20, 2017
  • Three dead in WLR

    Three dead in suspected double murder-suicide in West Little Rock.
    • Aug 20, 2017
  • One dead in shooting at Buffalo National River

    KTHV reports a man was fatally shot Saturday at the Buffalo National River in Searcy County in what is being called an officer-involved shooting. No other details at the moment.
    • Aug 20, 2017
  • More »

Readers also liked…

  • Super Bowl line

    Over to you.
    • Feb 7, 2016
  • Charter school accountability: Non-existent in Arkansas

    A state audit finds charter school spending violated state law, but the state Education Department says it has no responsibility for ensuring proper management of charter schools. Say what?
    • Mar 5, 2016
  • Policy group urges opposition to new charter seats in Little Rock

    The Arkansas Public Policy Panel is urging supporters of the Little Rock School District to tell state Board of Education members they oppose applications to be heard this week to dramatically expand the number of charter school seats in the Little Rock School District.
    • Mar 9, 2016

Most Shared

  • Take yourself there: Mavis Staples coming to LR for Central High performance

    Gospel and R&B singer and civil rights activist Mavis Staples, who has been inspiring fans with gospel-inflected freedom songs like "I'll Take You There" and "March Up Freedom's Highway" and the poignant "Oh What a Feeling" will come to Little Rock for the commemoration of the 60th anniversary of the desegregation of Central High.
  • Klan's president

    Everything that Donald Trump does — make that everything that he says — is calculated to thrill his lustiest disciples. But he is discovering that what was brilliant for a politician is a miscalculation for a president, because it deepens the chasm between him and most Americans.
  • On Charlottesville

    Watching the Charlottesville spectacle from halfway across the country, I confess that my first instinct was to raillery. Vanilla ISIS, somebody called this mob of would-be Nazis. A parade of love-deprived nerds marching bravely out of their parents' basements carrying tiki torches from Home Depot.
  • Lynchings hidden in the history of the Hot Springs Confederate monument

    Hot Springs twice erupted into the kind of violence that has its roots in the issues left unresolved by the Civil War, and both times, it happened right where that monument to Confederate soldiers stands today.

Most Recent Comments

Blogroll

 

© 2017 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation