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Pair convicted in liquor store killing not entitled to DNA evidence

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Two men sentenced more than 20 years ago for murder and Class C felony attempted robbery were not improperly denied post-conviction relief when they couldn’t obtain DNA evidence they said would prove exculpatory, the Indiana Court of Appeals ruled Monday.

Wayne Superior Judge Gregory Horn denied a request for post-conviction relief for the two men convicted of killing Richmond liquor store owner David Hodson in September 1990. Hodson died a day after he was shot. In Lorenzo Reid and Larry Blake, a/k/a Larry Reid v. State of Indiana, 89A01-1208-PC-377,  the Court of Appeals affirmed the denial.

Lorenzo Reid was sentenced to 54 years in prison and Larry Blake was sentenced to 44 years for their involvement in the killing. A third person also was believed to be involved, but was never charged, and the defendants believe new DNA testing would reveal that person, as they claimed, committed the crime.

Reid and Blake sought post-conviction relief because they claimed the state failed to preserve or destroyed evidence that would have been exculpatory, an argument the court rejected.

“Appellants argue that their due process rights were violated as a result of the post-conviction loss or destruction of certain DNA evidence. The evidence was available for testing and was tested prior to trial. Appellants had access to the evidence as well as the test results prior to trial, and the results of these tests, which excluded Appellants as potential sources for the DNA, were admitted at trial,” Judge Cale Bradford wrote for the court.

“We conclude that … Appellants do not have a Due Process right to obtain post-conviction access to the State’s evidence for additional testing,” Bradford wrote.

"Even assuming that additional testing could result in finding a match of the DNA evidence obtained at the crime scene, such a discovery would only be potentially useful as it would likely only identify Appellants’ unknown accomplice and would not, in and of itself, prove that Appellants had not committed the crimes for which they were convicted."

The court also rejected arguments of ineffective counsel and that the state failed to disclose that a witness had a possible prior criminal conviction.

 

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