The subject of DNA testing has been increasingly prevalent in Maryland courtrooms. In the past few months, a Maryland case (Maryland v. King) was argued in the Supreme Court on the topic of whether an arrested person’s DNA could be legally taken. No matter one’s view on its collection, DNA sometimes plays a large role on determining who did or did not do something. However, they recently decided that Brown v. Maryland shows an example of how allegedly exonerating DNA results that might not even matter.
Brown features a particularly violent assault and rape of a young woman. She was abducted, beaten, handcuffed, and tortured-- among other things that the court understated as being “not pretty.” I think the word "unimaginable" works. Anyway, Brown was found guilty and convicted to eighty-five years in prison. Now he attempted to utilize a new Maryland statue that granted a new trial if post-conviction DNA was (1) favorable to the petitioner and there was (2) a substantial possibility…that the petitioner would not have been convicted if the results were known at trial.
There was no physical evidence linking Brown to the crime, and the post-conviction DNA results showed that Brown’s DNA was nowhere to be found on any of the main weapons involved in the incident. He compares his case to two examples in which the government alleged that DNA evidence (blood on sweatpants and on a knife) was inconsistent with the theory of the case.
However, the court rejected the comparison, stating that in the current case, the government had made no such implication that Brown’s DNA was on the scene. In fact, Brown was convicted with no mention of his DNA at all and with specific instructions to the jury stating that there was no such forensic evidence. The testimony of the victim, corroborating evidence, and statements to the police were enough for the jury.