DNA Segregation – Separate But Not Equal

June 15, 2006 

I’m telling you right now, if you want to get ahead in this world...quit school; become a loser; commit some crimes and quit being an average guy. 

While Durham District Attorney Mike Nifong continues hell-bent to destroy the lives of three college lacrosse players with no evidence other than the representations of an unstable stripper, a Connecticut judge just freed a convicted rapist (with a prior criminal record) based on 18 year old DNA “evidence”. 

The Fourteenth Amendment, the same Fourteenth Amendment used to guarantee “Equal Protection” in Brown v. Board of Education, has ceased to be relevant when it comes to normal people. 

Or... could it be that Nifong coasted through law school, and more than 27 years as a prosecutor, without ever reading the Bill of Rights. 

Without a single smear of credible DNA evidence connecting the Duke University lacrosse players to the “victim” after multiple DNA tests, Nifong discounted the value of DNA evidence and proceeded to indict the three Duke students. 

In Nifong’s own words, “DNA results can often be helpful, but I've been doing this a long time, and for most of the years I've been doing this, we had to deal with sexual assault cases the good old-fashioned way. Witnesses got on the stand and told what happened to them. The fact is anytime you have a victim who can identify her assailant, then what you have is a case a judge must let go to the jury.”   

In Connecticut, Hartford Superior Court Judge Thomas Miano freed (pending a new trial) convicted rapist James Calvin Tillman when Miano “based his decision largely on revolutionary advances in the science of DNA testing...and none conclusively matched Tillman's DNA profile”. 

Tillman was sentenced in 1989 to 45 years in prison “for the brutal kidnapping and rape of a woman in downtown Hartford (CT)” based upon the victim who “...picked him out of a police photo lineup as the man who forced himself on her as she was getting into her car after a night of having drinks with co-workers at the Arch Street Tavern in Hartford”. 

The then 26 year old Tillman with a previous criminal record for “a 1987 conviction on charges of assault and larceny, and a conviction from a 1985 arrest on charges of driving while intoxicated” was living in a homeless shelter at the time of the rape. 

But along came two lawyers from the Connecticut Innocence Project who found, after 18 years, a “box on a conference-room table...Inside was another box, and inside that was a manila envelope...Through a hole in the envelope, they could see crumpled pieces of black fabric - the evidence they hoped would clear James Calvin Tillman”. 

This “evidence” has traveled a muddy road:

With new testing technology, analysts from the Connecticut state forensic lab determined that four out of five DNA stains could not have come from Tillman.  Testing on the fifth stain was inconclusive. 

I don’t want to be picky here, but the integrity of this “evidence” was obviously compromised.  The National Institute of Justice cautions that “Because extremely small samples of DNA can be used as evidence, greater attention to contamination issues is necessary when identifying, collecting, and preserving DNA evidence.  DNA evidence can be contaminated when DNA from another source gets mixed with DNA relevant to the case. This can happen when someone sneezes or coughs over the evidence or touches his/her mouth, nose, or other part of the face and then touches the area that may contain the DNA to be tested.” 

Although Tillman’s 18 year old DNA evidence was: bounced from location to location; lost and then found in a document storage archive building; had a hole in the envelope in which it was stored and handled by multiple people...a Connecticut judge saw fit to release Tillman. How do you spell “evidentiary chain of custody”? 

With the same ease that a Connecticut judge exercised in releasing a convicted rapist resulting from DNA evidence over victim testimony, Nifong continues to prosecute the three Duke students with a confidence in victim testimony over DNA exoneration. 

As Nifong explains it, the lack of any DNA evidence connecting the three Duke students to the rape “doesn't mean nothing happened...It just means nothing was left behind.”  Nifong maintains that he “feels comfortable” with the credibility of the alleged rape “victim”.   

And what a “victim” Nifong has relied on to ruin the lives of the three Duke students. 

Nifongs “victim” is a stripper with a criminal record who “was drinking while taking prescription medication and had sex with at least four men and a vibrator” immediately prior to the alleged rape.  And, despite the prosecution’s representations, the post “rape” medical examinations showed no signs of sexual or physical attack consistent with the “victim’s” allegations. 

In fact, “The second dancer in the Duke lacrosse case told police early on that allegations of rape were a ‘crock’ and that she was with the accuser the entire evening except for a period of less than five minutes.”  At one point in early in the investigation, the “victim” maintained that the second dancer even facilitated and participated in the rape. 

Although his “victim” seems as loony as the Mad Hatter, Nifong insists on going forward “the good old fashioned way”.   

Does Nifong realize that “the good old fashioned way” just resulted in the freeing of a convicted rapist in Connecticut? 

And the victim testimony in the Connecticut case was much more credible than the cards Nifong is dealing. 

Sometimes you have to wonder how much law is left in the legal system when American justice can be so unequal.

 

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