Virginia governor orders DNA test for man executed in 1992 Jeannie Shawl at 7:05 PM ET
[JURIST] Virginia Governor Mark Warner [official website] on Thursday ordered that DNA evidence from a 1980s rape and murder case be tested to determine whether the man convicted and executed for the crime was innocent. Roger Keith Coleman [advocacy profile] was convicted for the 1981 rape and murder of his sister-in-law and was executed in 1992. Warner ordered the tests because current technology can provide a level of forensic certainty not previously available. This is the first time that a governor has requested genetic testing for someone already executed, and if Coleman is shown to be innocent, it will mark the first time that scientific testing will have exonerated someone already executed. Coleman continually asserted his innocence and death penalty [JURIST news archives] opponents have requested for several years that DNA evidence from the crime scene be tested, but Virginia courts have refused to order the testing. The Washington Post has more.
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