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I’m At a Loss For Words

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This’ll get your blood boiling. Upon waking up this morning, I read this headline in the NY Times: Despite DNA Test, Prosecutor is Retrying Case.

That’s right. A Mississippi prosecutor is retrying a man, Kenny Brewer, a mildly mentally handicapped laborer who served 15 years for a rape and capital murder of a young girl, and who was released from death row after it was found last year that the DNA at the crime scene didn’t match his. The state has made no effort to find the man whose DNA actually is at the crime scene. The prosecutor never even checked the DNA against the state’s database, claiming that there isn’t one. The state argued in Mr. Brewer’s first trial that he acted alone. But now the prosecutor says Mr. Brewer assisted while someone else raped and murdered the girl. The prosecutor says the DNA evidence proves nothing. Mr. Brewer doesn’t deny he was at the young girl’s home; he was dating her mother and stayed there often. The state’s star witness in the first trial was a bite mark expert who later was expelled from the national medical boards and the association of forensic dentists. There is no evidence linking Mr. Brewer to the crime. Prosecutors sought a new capital murder trial for Mr. Brewer, but have had to settle for plain old murder.

This is an appalling example of the continuing two-tier justice system that still exists, especially in the former Jim Crow states. The man was exonerated. The state did nothing to find the man whose DNA was at the crime scene. But they’re continuing the prosecute (persecute) the one man they see as an easy target — poor, black, and to many in the state who have not quite wrapped their heads around the conclusiveness of DNA evidence, still guilty.

Update: Can any of you criminal law experts out there explain why this is not double jeopardy? IS it because they are now trying him as an accessory? Now this is what they call continuing legal education.

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