State High Court Gives Rapists Access to DNA Testing

By Tom Bacon

Virtually any convicted rapist in Washington State may now be able to demand and get DNA testing which might, or might not, point to his innocence. In a case dating from 1993, a majority of the state's high court has ruled that a man serving time for five counts of first degree rape has a right to have DNA from the crime scene tested.

Lindsey Crumpton was convicted for the brutal and repeated assaults against a then-75 year old woman in Bremerton. Although the victim could not identify him - the attacker covered her head - the physical and circumstantial evidence against Crumpton was overwhelming. He was arrested a half mile from the victim's home, carrying a blood-stained pillowcase, jewelry and other items which belonged to her, and hairs left on the mattress matched his.

After exhausting all his legal appeals, in 2011 Crumpton asked for, and was denied, post-conviction DNA testing. But the Supreme Court majority held that state law should presume that the testing would be favorable to him.

Dissenting judges, led by Debra Stevens of Spokane, scoffed at the reasoning, pointing out that the statute allowing for DNA testing has no such "presumptive" language. Stevens warned that DNA testing will now be required in, as she put it, “every single perpetrator rape case in which a convicted defendant asserts his or her innocence and shows that DNA technology has improved”.

She predicted that courts will be flooded with such demands from crimes committed 20 or more years ago. Stevens said “leave the focus of the statue where it was intended to be, rather than reading a favorable presumption into the language”.
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