Inmate Scheduled for Execution May 12 Requests DNA Test to Demonstrate Innocence
Jerry Conner is scheduled to be executed on May 12. He professes his innocence of the murders, armed robbery and the rape for which he was convicted and sentenced to die. The State’s theory was that only one person committed all these crimes. DNA results, if favorable, will conclusively answer the question of whether Mr. Conner is innocent of the rape of Linda Rogers, and consequently innocent of the murders and armed robbery.
Prior DNA testing conducted by the FBI was inconclusive. DNA testing has improved to such an extent that we can now identify the contributor of the semen. According to
The other evidence in the case is unreliable. Although Mr. Conner “confessed” his involvement in these crimes at the time of his arrest, his statements to the police were taken under the threat of the death penalty and were marred by internal inconsistencies. Although many find it difficult to imagine how someone could admit to a crime they did not commit, the Innocence Project reports that false confessions have been present in more than 1 in 4 DNA exonerations that have occurred across the country.
The State of North Carolina opposes DNA testing. The SBI agent in charge of handling, preparing and transmitting the 1991 DNA to the FBI was Brenda Bissette, an agent who was forced to resign from the SBI lab for mishandling DNA evidence in up to 50 cases. Although the SBI has agreed to conduct re-testing in “any case that Bissette handled,” the State is opposing Mr. Conner’s request. Jerry Conner has filed a motion over the objection of the prosecutors asking for a test that could demonstrate beyond any doubt, before he is executed, that he is innocent. Without this test, the State of North Carolina risks the execution of an innocent man. If instead of opposing and obstructing this testing the State were to consent to testing, the results of the test will be completed well ahead of Mr. Conner’s May 12 execution date.
For more information, contact attorneys for Jerry Conner:
Ken Rose or Mark Kleinschmidt, Center for Death Penalty Litigation, (919) 956-9545