2 cases in running for DNA tests

A grant-funded DNA testing program that led to the exoneration of Robert Dewey last year has two more Mesa County cases on its radar.

Senior Assistant Attorney General Julie Selsberg told The Daily Sentinel in an interview Friday that two cases — both involving people who were convicted at trial of murder in Mesa County — are among five cases statewide that her staff has committed to “dig in deeper on.”

They haven’t yet committed to new DNA testing on any of the five cases, she stressed.

For now, Selsberg said they’re contacting attorneys and digging up old case files.

“We’re going to get to a point where we’ll know these cases as well as the attorneys who took them to trial back in the day,” Selsberg said.

She did not identify the two Mesa County murder convictions currently of interest to the Attorney General’s Justice Review Project, which is reviewing Colorado convictions for cases that may benefit from modern DNA testing.

The latest round of reviews started last spring, shortly after the April 30 exoneration of Dewey, 52, who was wrongfully imprisoned 16 years after being convicted at trial in 1996 for the rape and murder of 19-year-old Jacie Taylor in Palisade.

In the latest effort, Selsberg said they were provided a list of 7,914 inmates from the Colorado Department of Corrections now imprisoned for violent crimes as defined under state law, including murder, sexual assault, arson, aggravated robbery and assault.

Of those, 2,022 indicated interest in having their cases reviewed by Selsberg’s team, but just 467 actually applied for the review.

They’ve already reviewed and closed 161 of the cases, she said.

“The five cases we’re digging deeper on have moved beyond that initial stage of review,” she said.

The effort is funded by a $1.4 million grant from the National Institute of Justice.

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