DA Fights Post-Conviction DNA Testing For Overriding Jury

A Wacko Waco District Attorney is opposing post-conviction DNA testing on the grounds that it overrides what a jury decided. The subject of the dispute, Anthony Melendez, is the only living defendant in the 1982 Lake Waco Murders. His attorney argues that the testing is warranted because DNA analysis was not available when he was convicted. Coincidentally, DNA evidence just exonerated a different man in Texas, despite similar opposition from that DA.

Melendez, who is serving two life sentences, originally plead guilty but later recanted, claiming he falsely confessed after his attorneys told him he would get the death penalty if it went to trial. One of the other defendants in the original case, David Wayne Spence, was executed in 1997. Spence’s story and possible innocence has been the subject of several articles. If Melendez is exonerated it could constitute proof of a wrongful execution. Of course, the testing could also be inconclusive or confirm his guilt. It remains a hot topic in Texas.

Melendez’s present attorney, Walter M. Reaves, filed the motion asking the judge to order testing, paid for by the defense. District Attorney Abel Reyna opposes such testing because it overrides what a jury decided, apparently even if the information they relied on might be incorrect. His opposition will likely fail as the Texas Legislature recently eliminated most grounds for prosecutors to oppose post-conviction DNA testing where the results might be probative. Another DA in Texas is under serious scrutiny after his six-year campaign to block DNA evidence finally failed and the actual evidence not only exonerated the defendant but found the actual killer may have been involved in a separate murder.

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