Henning and Birch Cases in CT

The Connecticut Supreme Court heard oral arguments last week in the cases of Shawn Henning and Ralph Birch. The two men, convicted of murder in 1989, seek vacatur of their convictions based on (1) recent DNA test results that exclude them and (2) evidence that the testimony of a forensic scientist, Henry Lee, was false.  Lee had concluded that a stain on a towel found at the crime scene contained blood – and a State Attorney then used this conclusion to support a claim that the two men used it to wipe blood off themselves after the killing.   Post-trial testing indicated that no blood was present on the towel.  None of the new DNA results were consistent with Henning or Birch’s DNA profiles. Connecticut State Attorneys, however, caution that the results might have been corrupted by contamination either before testing or at the crime lab itself.  Dave Altimari of the Hartford Courant describes the two issues regarding the DNA and the blood evidence as “whether someone seeking a new trial based on newly discovered DNA evidence can present other non-DNA evidence that was not available at time of the trial, as well as non-DNA evidence that wasn’t presented in the original trial.” Third, the inmates would also like to present expert testimony that footprints found at the crime scene were too small to come from either of the two.  Read Altimiari’s article about Henning and Birch at http://www.courant.com/news/connecticut/hc-news-new-milford-murder-appeal-20181012-story.html.

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