Christa Worthington (1997 File Photo/Justin Sutcliffe/Gamma)
Christopher M. McCowen deserves a new trial because DNA evidence linking him to murder victim Christa Worthington was improperly presented to the Cape Cod jury that convicted McCowen of first-degree murder, an attorney told the state's high court today.
Robert A. George said the DNA evidence was the only forensic link between his client and Worthington, a fashion writer stabbed to death inside her Truro home in January 2002. The woman's daughter, who was then 2 years old, was found smeared with her mother's blood.
George said that under a recent US Supreme Court ruling known as Melendez-Diaz, the State Police DNA technician who actually performed DNA tests should have testified. One of the technician's co-workers testified for her instead.
Christopher McCowen (2006 Globe File Photo)
But justices of the Supreme Judicial Court expressed skepticism about George's claim, telling him that the federal ruling was aimed at a specific Massachusetts law that does not include DNA testing.
George also said problems with the jury – including claims of racial bias – should lead the SJC to order a new trial. McCowen was convicted in 2006.
But Cape and Islands Assistant District Attorney Julia K. Holler said Barnstable Superior Court Judge Gary A. Nickerson made the right call when he tossed one juror off the panel for not being truthful to him, and that Nickerson was also right when he found jurors were not influenced by racial bias when they reached their verdict.
McCowen is black and was working as a trash collector, while Worthington was white. The SJC took the case under advisement.
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