Ohio Exonerees Visit DNA Testing Laboratory

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Two recently exonerated men visit DNA Diagnostics Center to learn about the DNA technology that changed the course of their lives and proved their claims of innocence true.

Two Ohio inmates, recently freed on account of DNA evidence, visited DNA Diagnostics Center (DDC) on March 19 to learn about the DNA testing process that changed the course of their lives. Robert McClendon was released August 26, 2008, and Joseph Fears was released March 10, 2009--just over a week before their visit to DDC.

Accompanied by members of the Ohio Innocence Project team from the University of Cincinnati, led by Mark Godsey, they were welcomed by Dr. Ellen Moscovitz, DDC's chief executive officer. They toured DDC's laboratories and were shown the microscope and genetic analyzers that Dr. Julie Heinig, DDC's chief forensic scientist, used to test samples from McClendon's case.

The tour ended with a speech by McClendon in front of DDC employees. The visit was emotional for both the exonerees and DDC employees. "This is such a humbling experience for me," said McClendon. "I know that this could not have happened without a joint effort." He talked of establishing a foundation to help those who have been wrongfully convicted, and his desire to push for stronger evidence preservation laws in Ohio.

Dr. Moscovitz expressed DDC's continuing commitment to the Ohio Innocence project, saying, "These are two very special visitors. In prison as innocent men, they were leading lives that were in turmoil and agony. DDC is very committed to helping the Ohio Innocence Project with their efforts on these cases."

McClendon's and Fears's cases are among 30 Ohio cases that were identified to have "legitimate claims of innocence" in an investigation conducted by the Columbus Dispatch together with the Ohio Innocence Project. Of these, 14 have been approved for DNA testing by the respective presiding judges and county prosecutor's offices.

DDC performs forensic DNA testing and consultation for defense attorneys and law enforcement agencies across the United States. It is certified by ASCLD/LAB-International for forensic testing, as well as by the AABB, CLIA and NYSDOH.

For more information:
Ohio Innocence Project - University of Cincinnati Press Release
http://www.uc.edu/news/NR.aspx?id=9838

"Test of Convictions"- The Columbus Dispatch
http://www.dispatch.com/live/content/special_reports/stories/2008/dna/index.html

DNA Diagnostics Center's Testing Aids in Release of Ohio Inmate
http://www.dnacenter.com/media/dna-test-exonerates-Ohio-inmate.html

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Kathy Gantzer
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