Tuesday, November 12, 2002


The SF Gate details the battle...


Advocates for executed inmate still seeking DNA testing

A scientist holding frozen DNA evidence in the case of an executed Virginia inmate said he will fight any effort by the state to get the evidence back.

Edward T. Blake, of Forensic Science Associates in Richmond, Calif., said he will go to court in California to block any Virginia court order to turn over evidence he has held for 12 years. Blake fears Virginia authorities will destroy it.

Blake said the public has a right to know whether Roger Keith Coleman raped and murdered Wanda Faye McCoy in Buchanan County in 1981. Coleman, who always said he was innocent, was executed in 1992.

In 1990, Virginia authorities had Blake examine a vaginal swab taken from the victim. The genetic tests showed Coleman fell within only 2 percent of the Caucasian population that could have committed the crime.

That test, coupled with other blood tests, found Coleman was within 0.2 percent of the population that could have been the perpetrator.

Coleman also failed a lie-detector test shortly before he was executed.

Coleman supporters and capital punishment foes contend that the earlier DNA test was misinterpreted and the results were based on flawed assumptions. They say advances in DNA testing now might enable a conclusive determination of whether Coleman was guilty.

Paul Ferrara, director of the state division of forensic science, said he could test the evidence only if ordered to do so by a court or the governor.