DNA tests prompt review of 1992 Ill. rape conviction; analyst tied to other problem cases

Friday, November 24th 2006, 10:55 am

By: News On 6

CHICAGO (AP) Authorities are reviewing the conviction of a man imprisoned for a 1992 rape after he was cleared by DNA tests that the original lab analyst refused to conduct.

Marlon Pendleton's lawyers received the results of the new tests Wednesday and filed a motion seeking to vacate his conviction. Prosecutors were reviewing the case and Pendleton's conviction in another rape, said John Gorman, spokesman for State's Attorney Richard Devine.

A hearing was set for next Thursday.

``It was no surprise to me,'' Pendleton, 49, told the Chicago Tribune on Thursday in an interview at the Dixon Correctional Center. ``I always knew I was innocent.''

Pendleton demanded DNA testing after his arrest, but police lab analyst Pamela Fish said there wasn't enough genetic material to test the evidence. Pendleton was convicted based on the victim's identification.

The expert who conducted the new tests, Brian Wraxall of Serological Research Institute, said Wednesday he was surprised at Fish's report ``because I found a reasonable amount of DNA.''

Fish's work has been challenged in the past, most notably in the cases of four men later cleared by DNA evidence of the 1986 rape and murder of medical student Lori Roscetti.

In that case, Fish, who no longer works for the police department, testified that semen found on Roscetti could have belonged to three of the defendants. But a DNA expert later examined Fish's notes and said they showed none of the four men had a blood type matching the samples.

Efforts by the newspaper to reach Fish were unsuccessful. A telephone message left by The Associated Press late Thursday at a number listed under that name was not immediately returned.

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