Prosecution grills witness for defense about DNA evidence

Hoping to weaken the effect of DNA evidence against alleged rapist Antonio Burton, defense attorneys called a professional expert witness to the stand Friday in Hennepin County District Court.
Don Reilly, a biochemistry expert from the University of Washington, testified that numerous possibilities for lab-technician errors and inconclusive or subjective test results exist.
Although Reilly might have convinced the courtroom that anything is possible in forensics, prosecuting attorney Steve Redding made sure the jury knew the witness was no stranger to offering expert testimony.
“You’ve testified on a number of occasions, and always for the defense?” Redding asked Reilly.
After a five-second period of silence, Reilly replied, “Yes.”
Redding also alluded to the healthy paycheck Reilly received for testifying.
Reilly testified that he made $110,000 in 1996 giving such testimony, compared to the $49,000 the University of Washington, his employer, paid him.
The evidence in question stems from an October 1996 break-in near the University when two female students were raped. Three other men have been implicated in the incident.
The prosecution contends that Burton committed the rapes, then wiped himself off with a knit vest belonging to one of the women.
The vest was found in a recycling bin outside the apartment complex where the incident occurred. When tested for biological fluid, it was found to contain semen matching Burton’s DNA profile.
Under defense questioning, Reilly listed a number of possible factors that could undermine the conclusiveness of the evidence.
He testified that results of tests revealing semen also could have been consistent with those of urine. He added that semen was not necessarily present in the samples.
Giezwa Andersen and Victor Porter, two of four men involved in the incident, are expected to testify this week. Judge Andrew Danielson expressed that he believed the case could go to the jury as early as Wednesday.