DNA Mix Up Could Result in the Re-Opening of Other Criminal Cases

LAS VEGAS -- Some law experts say Metro's DNA mix up that sent an innocent man to prison is just the beginning of future legal battles.

The consequences could be big for the Clark County court system. One criminal defense lawyer told 8 News NOW that he fully expects defense lawyers to start requesting new DNA tests for their convicted clients. But District Attorney David Roger says it's not that simple.

"Everything that this man touched has to be re-examined," said John Momot, a criminal defense attorney. "It is going to be a flood gate of litigation regarding this because a lot of individuals who are incarcerated are going to say 'hey, look I want my DNA testing re-tested.'"

Momot says defense attorneys all over the valley will be waiting to see if forensic scientist Terry Cook ever handled their client's DNA. If so, it might be an opportunity to get those cases re-opened, especially cases where convictions were based solely on DNA evidence.

It's a reality District Attorney David Roger knows is coming.

"I was mortified when I learned that we had sent an innocent person to prison. No prosecutor ever wants to convict an innocent person and we did it in this case," said Roger.

He says, while they're focus right now is on the wrongfully accused man Dwayne Johnson, he fully expects defense attorneys to file motions for a new DNA tests on their clients.

"We will work with Metro and review their findings to make sure there aren't any other cases out there where people have been wronged and convicted and we'll work with them to make sure standards are in place to make sure this doesn't happen again," said Roger.

But Roger doesn't expect a flood gate of re-opened cases saying many of their cases don't rely solely on DNA evidence. But for those that do, Momot says convicted clients may get a second chance.

"You take out the DNA and what's the value of the case then? It changes substantially," he said.

From a criminal defense side, Momot says any DNA that this scientist signed off on could be called into question and could stretch back to the beginning of his career. As far as criminals getting out of jail due to this finding, Roger says they will have to review that on a case by case basis.


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