On Tuesday, September 18th, a judge in the Lake Waco murders case ordered a scientist to appear in court with DNA evidence.
Anthony Melendez’s lawyer, Walter M. Reaves, Jr, thinks re-testing DNA evidence could exonerate his client. Anthony Melendez is the only surviving defendant of four accused from the 1982 case, in which three teenagers were murdered. He and his brother Gilbert were sentenced to two life terms in prison, after pleading guilty. Gilbert Melendez died in prison in 1998.
Now, the case is being re-tried with DNA evidence. Alan Keel’s lab was hired test the DNA evidence, but the testing has not yet yielded useable results. Contra Costa County Superior Court Judge Diana Becton ordered Keel to appear in Waco’s 54th State District Court for Melendez’s hearing, but the scientist never showed up.
He said it was because his professional fees were never paid, and he will not release the evidence without receiving the normal fee of between $15,000 to $30,000. Melendez’s legal team, however, argues that the lab has already been paid $35,000 for transfer of evidence to a new facility for better testing.
Keel’s lab does not offer a particular type of DNA testing that Melendez’s legal team requests. The defendant’s attorneys believe that the new testing could yield useable results. They put in the request to Keel’s California lab three years ago, but the lab has not complied with transferring the DNA evidence to a Texas lab, which is specifically accredited for the new type of testing.
Keel has said that he will comply with Judge Becton’s order to appear in court, depending on what type of evidence he is to bring. Some members of Melendez’s legal team are questioning why Keel is dragging his heels, slowing down the process to exonerate a man who was wrongfully convicted of murder.
Exoneration and expungement laws are very important. Criminal convictions, or even just accusations, can follow you for the rest of your life, preventing you from getting a job or an education. If you would like your criminal record expunged in the state of South Carolina, the attorneys at the Strom Law Firm can help. We offer free, confidential consultations to discuss the facts of your expungement or exoneration case, so contact us today.