Thursday, January 2, 2014

Chad Enderle: Davenport, Iowa; How the interpretation of fingerprints lay at the heart of a murder case - and troubling questions about the conviction remain; The Quad City Times;

STORY: "How a Davenport murder case turned on a fingerprint," by Susan Du, Stephanie Haines, Gideon Resnick and Tori Simkovic, The Medill Justice Project,  published by the Quad City Times on December 22, 2013;

Prosecutor Mike Walton defends the Enderle conviction:  "The article credits the students with “discovering information that raised questions about the key fingerprint evidence in the case” but I found nothing newly discovered. These issues were previously raised and addressed in court. The fingerprint evidence was solid. The identification was made by a trained, experienced and certified examiner, Dennis Kern. The identification was verified locally by two other experienced, certified examiners. The print was then submitted to the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation Crime Laboratory for independent examination where two more certified examiners verified the identification. These confirmations were done not because of doubt, but because Kern and the other examiners knew the significance of the print evidence and the importance of getting it right.
The jury heard this evidence. What the jury did not hear was the unexpected confirmation from an additional source. The defense hired its own fingerprint expert who initially disagreed with the identification but after observing a clear photograph of the print, changed his opinion and agreed it was Enderle’s fingerprint. The defense decided not to call him as a witness. The students’ use of Herbert MacDonnell for the article did not enhance its credibility. MacDonnell is not a certified fingerprint examiner. MacDonnell gave the most embarrassingly incompetent testimony I have ever witnessed in a courtroom. After he testified at length that he disagreed with Kern’s identification of the fingerprint I was able to point out that he was looking at the wrong print. He is quoted as saying “I would not sleep nights if I made that match” but subsequent to his testimony in Scott County, MacDonnell was convicted of two counts second-degree aggravated harassment arising from allegations he acted inappropriately with two young girls.* So what exactly causes him to lose sleep speaks for itself. Chad Enderle received a fair trial, the evidence consuming seven full days of testimony. His conviction has been affirmed on appeal. His postconviction relief application was denied but remains on appeal, the outcome unknown at this point. The fact remains that a professional and thorough investigation by the Davenport Police Department resulted in solid evidence convincing a jury unanimously and beyond a reasonable doubt that Chad Enderle ruthlessly and brutally murdered Greg Harris. Fingerprint analysis when done correctly remains a valuable evidentiary technique recognized by all courts in the United States and most of the world."


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