Posted: Nov 21, 2010 3:44 PM by Andrea Babin
Updated: Nov 21, 2010 3:44 PM
LAFAYETTE, La. (AP) - Prosecutors are opposing efforts by
William Williams Jr., who was convicted in 1983 of raping Abbeville
woman, to have his DNA be tested against evidence collected in the
The Baton Rouge Advocate reports that Williams was accused of
kidnapping an Abbeville woman at knifepoint, raping her and
stealing 30 cents from her purse in June 1981.
Williams' convictions in 1983 on charges of aggravated rape,
aggravated kidnapping and armed robbery of the woman were upheld
despite his repeated appeals for post-conviction relief.
Louisiana law enables convicted felons to make their case for
post-conviction DNA testing.Among the requirements: that the
petitioner show that the test could resolve "articulable doubt"
and that evidence is in a testable condition.
District Attorney Mike Harson maintains that physical evidence
collected, in this case, diminishes the relevance of DNA.
In January, 15th Judicial District Judge Thomas Duplantier
granted Williams' application for testing under the condition that
a Dallas lab finds that the evidence is in a condition to be
tested, according to court records.
The state won't be charged for the test; a New Jersey nonprofit
organization, Centurion Ministries, will pay on Williams' behalf.
Williams challenges the evidence at his trial, including a palm
print lifted from the vehicle involved in the crime and
discrepancies between the victim's initial description of her
attacker made to police and her testimony.
The reliability of the palm print analysis conducted more than
20 years ago is questionable based on a recent study by the
National Academy of Sciences, according to court records filed by
Williams' attorney, Emily Maw.
Williams also has questioned testimony by a crime scene
technician who lifted prints from the car involved. Maw contends in
court documents that the technician was able to identify the
location of every other print lifted - except the location of the
print that was matched to Williams.
Harson said, "There's no other way that palm print could have
gotten into her vehicle unless it was that night. That's the
physical evidence. DNA loses its relevance."
Also in question is whether the evidence is in a condition to be
tested, Harson said.
"They have to show that there is reliable evidence that can be
tested before they can go on a fishing expedition," Harson said.