A  Disappointing Ruling

The Mississippi Supreme Court has denied Willie Manning the opportunity to pursue appropriate DNA testing of hairs found in Tiffany Miller’s car.[i]

Willie had asked for specialist testing after screening at Bode Technology lab failed to produce usable data from the hairs.[ii] Bode lab advised that a different, specialist lab might well locate mitochondrial DNA within these old, fragmented samples; Bode recommended MitoTyping Technologies for the purpose. The court rejected the likelihood of additional results being obtained by the specialist lab.

The Mississippi Supreme Court ruling upholds a previous circuit court decision[iii] that included the strange announcement that the hairs from Miller’s car were irrelevant to the outcome of Willie’s case – despite the hairs having been admitted as state evidence at his trial. (As Mississippi Supreme Court Justice King states in his dissent, “some of the hair samples were directly used to convict Manning”.)

The state Supreme Court also dismisses Willie’s assertion that DNA evidence might lead to the identification of a perpetrator; but Justice King disagrees (“DNA testing could potentially lead to the true perpetrator of the crime”).

Justice King also suggests that the additional 3-4 months required for specialist DNA testing is trivial compared with the almost 20 years that elapsed before the court granted Willie his request to test the evidence.

This court ruling is limited to hairs found in Miller’s car; the court notes that other evidence was tested for DNA, and that some DNA data was found. Separately, fingerprints from John Wise’s car were examined by forensic specialist Ron Smith, but no matches were found in the Automated Fingerprint Identification System or Integrated Automated Fingerprint Identification System databases.

Willie and his attorneys are now conferring about future options. We wish them well.

[i] Decision affirming circuit court’s decision, Supreme Court of Mississippi, June 30, 2022. (Justice Kitchens joins Justice King in his dissent, which starts on page 43.)

[ii] Brief of Appellant, filed in the Supreme Court of Mississippi, April 19, 2021.

[iii] Order, Circuit Court of Oktibbeha County, Mississippi in Vacation 2020. April 28, 2020.

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