PROSECUTORS ask for additional DNA testing on evidence in murder trial - - Tulsa, OK - News, Weather, Video and Sports - |

PROSECUTORS ask for additional DNA testing on evidence in murder trial

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ Oklahoma County prosecutors on Monday asked that additional DNA tests be done on possible contaminated evidence in an upcoming murder trial.

It is the first request to a multi-agency task force investigating Oklahoma City police chemist Joyce Gilchrist for an independent review of evidence in a case in which there is no conviction or prison sentence.

Assistant Oklahoma County District Attorney Richard Wintory wants the evidence tested before Ronnie Clinton Lott goes to trial in September.

Lott, 40, is charged with the rapes and murders of Anna Laura Fowler, 83, on Sept. 3, 1986, and Zelma Cutler, 90, on Jan. 9, 1987. The state is asking for the death penalty.

In 1998, Robert Lee Miller Jr. was released on DNA evidence after being imprisoned for almost 11 years for the slayings. He spent seven years on death row.

DNA testing on semen found at the crime scenes tied Lott to the killings, officials say. Defense attorneys now question the integrity of the DNA results because of concerns over Gilchrist's credibility.

The FBI has accused Gilchrist of shoddy forensic work in five criminal cases. The FBI recommended a review of all the cases in which the chemist's work was significant to a conviction.

Gilchrist, now on paid administrative leave, is expected to testify at Lott's trial about the chain of custody and analysis of forensic evidence. She denies any wrongdoing.

Defense attorneys continue to try to delay Lott's trial as the FBI and a multi-agency task force conduct separate investigations into Gilchrist.

District Judge Virgil Black said he told defense attorneys to test the evidence themselves if they thought it was contaminated, but so far they haven't.

On Monday, the Oklahoma City Police Department agreed to pay more than $13,000 to test 18 items of evidence after attempts failed to have the Oklahoma Indigent Defense System pay for the DNA testing to determine whether the evidence is contaminated or unreliable.

``I have made numerous, repeated and persistent efforts,'' Wintory said of requests to one of Lott's attorneys, Craig D. Corgan with the Oklahoma Indigent Defense System.

``As a consequence of this cynical non-action in the face of the controversy involving the (police) department, I was compelled to provocatively address concerns that the State of Oklahoma is prosecuting Mr. Lott with evidence smeared by insinuations of intentional or negligent contamination in the OCPD Forensic Laboratory,'' Wintory told Laura Schile, the police lab DNA manager in a letter written Thursday.

Corgan said he could not discuss pending cases.

Lott pleaded guilty in 1987 to raping a 71-year-old woman and a 74-year-old woman. Those rapes happened less than 20 blocks from where Fowler and Cutler were raped and killed.

He was sentenced to 25 years in prison and released from Department of Corrections custody Dec. 22, 1998. Bond has been denied since the Fowler and Cutler charges were filed March 19, 1997.
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