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Judge grants DNA testing in 1987 murder case

NEWPORT, Ky. (AP) - A judge has granted DNA testing to an Ohio
man who claims the results will exonerate him in the killing of a
Veterans Affairs Medical Center nurse 23 years ago.
Campbell Circuit Judge Fred Stine issued the order Friday after
evidence thought lost in the case of 59-year-old William Virgil
turned up in the county's 127-year-old courthouse. Virgil is
serving 70 years in prison after being convicted of killing
54-year-old Retha Welch in 1987.
"One of the fundamental responsibilities of any tribunal is to
insure its judgment is accurate and reflects the true facts of the
case," Stine wrote in his ruling.
Virgil's attorney, Linda A. Smith, the director of the Kentucky
Innocence Project, said the ruling is the "first step" in proving
Virgil's innocence.
Commonwealth's Attorney Michelle Snodgrass, who opposes any
testing, told The Kentucky Enquirer she hasn't decided how she will
proceed.
Snodgrass, who has until May 31 to object to Stine's order,
maintains that, in absence of any new evidence, only people
sentenced to death have a right to DNA testing after their
conviction.
"Sometimes following the law as it is written isn't always easy
but that is my duty and obligation," said Snodgrass, who was just
a teenager when Virgil was convicted.
Among the items found for testing include a rape kit, Virgil's
bloody shoes, and hairs found on Welch's housecoat and bathroom
rug.
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Information from: The Kentucky Enquirer, http://www.nky.com

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)


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