The US Supreme Court has upheld an Illinois rape conviction over objections that the defendant didn't have the chance to question the reliability of the DNA evidence that helped convict him. The court's 5-4 ruling today went against a run of high court decisions that bolstered the right of criminal defendants to confront witnesses against them.
The case grew out of a DNA expert's testimony that helped convict Sandy Williams. The expert testified during the 2006 trial in Chicago that Williams' DNA matched a sample taken from the rape victim. The expert, however, played no role in the tests that extracted genetic evidence from the victim's sample. The court has previously ruled that defendants have the right to cross-examine the forensic analysts who prepare lab reports. But in this case, the state of Illinois argued the DNA expert who matched the two samples played the critical role, even though she didn't actually extract the DNA.
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