Saturday, May 11, 2013

John Huffington: New trial ordered; He is serving a life sentence for a 1981 double murder. Discredited hair analysis a factor in judge's decision; The Washington Post.

STORY: "Judge orders new trial for man serving life sentence for 1981 Hartford County double murder," published by the Associated Press on May 8, 2013.

GIST: "A judge has ordered a new trial for a man serving two life sentences in the 1981 killing of a couple in Harford County during a drug deal. Attorneys for John Norman Huffington had argued during a hearing in April that evidence used to convict him, including hair analysis, has been discredited. They said that without that evidence there is a substantial likelihood that a jury would not have convicted him. One of Huffington’s attorneys, Ryan Malone, said in a telephone interview Wednesday that he believes “the judge did the right thing” by ordering a new trial. He said the FBI agent that conducted the hair analysis was a “notorious fraud” and that there is “no question that the jury at the trial heard false testimony.” “Our view is this confirms John Huffington’s innocence,” Malone said of the judge’s ruling, adding that he hopes that the state decides not to retry his client......... Prosecutors also used hair analysis to link Huffington to the motor home. An FBI agent testified that hairs found where Becker was killed were “indistinguishable” from hairs taken from Huffington’s head. He said the hair analysis he conducted had an accuracy rate of 99.89 percent.  In April 2013, however, DNA analysis of two hairs recovered from the crime scene revealed they did not match Huffington. In ordering a new trial, Frederick County Circuit Court Judge G. Edward Dwyer Jr. wrote that “there is a significant possibility” that the case’s outcome may have been different had prosecutors not relied on the hair analysis evidence and the testimony of the FBI agent who conducted it. The judge wrote in a 16-page ruling that prosecutors mentioned the hair analysis in their opening statement and it was the first piece of evidence prosecutors talked about in their closing arguments."
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