COURT WATCH: Murder Retrial Introduces New DNA Evidence, Possibly Proving Innocence, Claims Defense

By Kristin Trent

WOODLAND, CA – A man sentenced to prison for murder seven years ago is now facing a retrial with new DNA evidence that may prove his innocence, according to his defense lawyer here in Yolo County Superior Court Monday.

A shirt believed to belong to the accused has come back from the CA Dept. of Justice without a DNA match for the victim, according to Deputy Public Defender Ron Johnson, who said he will introduce this new piece of evidence into the trial.

The accused is charged as being a direct aider and abettor of murder which is charged the same as the direct perpetrator under former California Penal Code. The trial will evaluate the accused on the single count of murder with all other counts bifurcated.

Today, a pretrial conference regarding preliminary examination was held to discuss how to handle the discussion and ruling of the prior trial with the jury.

Deputy District Attorney Robin Johnson noted concerns to the court about informing the jury of the previous trial, believing it will introduce prejudice against the prosecution due to the missteps warranting a retrial.

The jury must know about the prior trial given his intent to cross-examine a witness who admits “her experience in a prior trial tainted her view in testimony,” said DPD Johnson.

Asking jury candidates their opinion on the retrial of the case may also be beneficial, according to DPD Johnson.

“I’m open to suggestions of how we would deal with what the court of appeal did or why the trial is back in the court’s lap, but I think it’s impossible to extricate the fact of the prior trial in the jurors’ minds altogether, ” said DPD Johnson.

Judge Samuel McAdam agreed that in order to avoid juror prejudice the previous “jury trial” will be referred to as a “prior court hearing.”

“I do think it’s slightly prejudicial and super confusing to the jury and an issue not best to walk into unless we have to regarding (that) certain witness,” Judge McAdams stated.

The court has begun evaluating 50 candidates during jury selection Monday. Opening arguments are expected Oct. 16.

About The Author

Kristin Trent recently graduated from UC Davis with a degree in English. She is currently involved in production of Davis Media Access's local radio station KDRT 95.7 FM and hosts DCTV's In The Studio Series in addition to her work for The Vanguard. Currently pursuing a full-time position as a journalist, she is deeply devoted to environmental and social justice journalism.

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