Kentucky Supreme Court upholds conviction, sentence for death row inmate
High court rules that new DNA testing would not change outcome of trial no matter what the results were.
LOUISVILLE, Ky., (WDRB) – Despite harshly criticizing prosecutors for losing DNA evidence for more than two decades, the Kentucky Supreme Court has upheld the conviction and sentence of a man on death row for a kidnapping, robbery, rape and murder from 1987.
In a unanimous ruling, the high court last week rejected Gregory L. Wilson’s request to have DNA testing performed on evidence found at the crime scene, ruling it would not change the outcome even if it wasn’t linked to him.
The DNA at the crime scene - semen and hairs in an automobile - wouldn’t clear Wilson because the car had been abandoned and by the time police found it, “it was in a ramshackle condition” perhaps “at the hands of the various transient occupants,” according to the ruling.
In addition, the high court found the evidence was “overwhelming” that Wilson was guilty of murdering 36-year-old Deborah “Debbie” Pooley in 1987.
A co-defendant, Brenda Humphrey, identified Wilson as the killer and Wilson also used Pooley’s credit card, according to the ruling. When Wilson and Humphrey were arrested, they were wearing gold chains belonging to Pooley.
Prosecutors have said Humphrey drove while Wilson raped and strangled Pooley in the backseat after kidnapping her from Kenton County on May 29, 1987. Her naked body was found in Indiana a few weeks later.
The Supreme Court justices criticized prosecutors in their opinion, pointing out that for more than 20 years, the commonwealth said hairs found at the scene were lost.
But prosecutors had conducted only a "cursory" search for the hairs, which have since been located in a lab.
“The commonwealth’s ‘search’ for the hairs has always been a disappointing aspect of the case,” the high court wrote.
While testing of the hairs would not change the outcome of the case, “our justice system demands better,” the justices said in the ruling.
Wilson was scheduled to die by lethal injection on Sept. 16, 2010, but the execution was halted by Franklin Circuit Judge Phillip Shepherd. Shepherd had questions about Wilson's mental status and state execution regulations.
Copyright 2016 WDRB Media. All rights reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this story.