Attorney: New evidence shows condemned killer should be spared

Friday, February 11th 2005, 5:10 pm
By: News On 6

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) -- New evidence shows that convicted murderer Jimmie Ray Slaughter is innocent and that his upcoming execution should be halted, his attorney said Friday.

Slaughter is scheduled to die by injection on March 15 for shooting a woman and their baby daughter. The Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board meets Tuesday to consider Slaughter's request for clemency.

Attorney Robert Jackson said new DNA evidence conducted on a hair found on one of the victims doesn't connect Slaughter with the crimes, a theory that prosecutors argued during Slaughter's original trial.

"At the time this trial was conducted, they didn't have the ready access to the DNA that we have today, so they simply eyeballed it," Jackson said. "But we've had it tested ... and there's no way it could be from who they told the jury it was."

Slaughter, 57, was convicted in 1994 of shooting, stabbing and mutilating Melody Wuertz, 29, and fatally shooting their 11-month-old daughter, Jessica, in Edmond in 1991.

Slaughter was connected to the crime in part because of a single hair found at the crime scene that was linked to a woman Slaughter worked with in Kansas shortly before the murders, Jackson said.

Jackson also disputes an analysis of bullets found in the victim that he says were linked to Slaughter through an outdated technology called comparative bullet lead analysis.

"That science has come under a lot of fire, even by the people that pioneered it," Jackson said. "And that evidence is critical to the state's case because they were able to argue that the bullets found in the victims originated from a box that was located in Jim Slaughter's gun safe at his residence in Guthrie, Oklahoma."

A spokesman for the attorney general's office, which represents the state in post-conviction appeals, wouldn't comment specifically on Jackson's allegations.

"We'll address those things when we get to the board," spokesman Charlie Price said. "Slaughter was found guilty by a jury. He was sentenced, and his conviction and sentence have been upheld by the appellate courts. We believe we have a strong case before the clemency board, and that they will deny clemency."

Slaughter has twice appealed his conviction to the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals, and both appeals have been denied. Jackson said a third application, which includes the new DNA evidence, is pending.