DNA Testing and Aggravated Sexual Assault

| Jan 26, 2011 | Criminal Defense |

Ex parte Napper was a case out of the Texas Criminal Appeals court where the applicant for Habeas Corpus was convicted of aggravated sexual assault and aggravated kidnapping.  Some of the evidence supporting the convictions involved DNA testing conducted by the Houston Police Department Crime Lab.  After widespread problems were discovered with the HPD Crime Lab, the present case was subjected to further investigation, including additional DNA testing.  Applicant’s writ was based upon this further investigation.  The applicant alleged, among other things, that agents of the State consumed the entire DNA sample in bad faith, that a state witness perjured himself or gave false testimony, and that defense counsel was ineffective for failing to discover the problems with the lab’s testing and its analysis of test results.

The court held that despite the problems with the lab, the applicant’s claims were without merit.  In a lengthy analysis, the court of criminal appeals determined that the applicant’s trial attorney’s performance was deficient because he failed to conduct a proper investigation, and did not ask for a DNA expert.  However, the CCA found that the applicant failed to meet the prejudice prong of Strickland