Wednesday, April 26, 2006


In at 32, Out by 50

Ramesh Santanam of the AP reports from Pittsburgh—
A man imprisoned 18 years in the fatal shooting of a McDonald's restaurant manager will be freed because DNA tests show he didn't commit the crime, officials said Tuesday.

Drew Whitley, now 50, was convicted of second-degree murder and sentenced to life in the 1988 slaying. But officials said the DNA tests show that hairs from the killer's mask and hat did not come from him.

The hair evidence, thought to have been lost or destroyed, was found in July in storage and submitted for DNA tests. Final results were received by prosecutors Tuesday.

Soon after the shooting, a witness identified Whitley, and at the 1989 trial a crime lab technician said 41 hairs found in the stocking mask resembled Whitley's hair. DNA testing was not available at the time.

Police also recovered a bloodstained coat, hat and shoes, and the mask was found in a parking lot near the crime scene. Blood on the shoes matched Whitley's blood type.

Whitley has always maintained his innocence, Coffey said.

Yet some states and the federal government continue to execute people.

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