DNA evidence allowed

Alleged rapist Antonio Burton’s defense team might have suffered its first major setback Thursday when Judge Andrew Danielson source and decided to allow DNA evidence in the case.
Despite efforts by the defense to disprove the validity of DNA evidence, Danielson ruled that their reasoning was flawed.
Pre-trial motions continued in Hennepin County District Court as defense attorney Joseph Margulies and prosecuting attorney Steve Redding continued to tangle over evidence admissibility.
Burton is charged with 11 counts of aiding and abetting criminal sexual conduct, robbery and burglary stemming from an Oct. 8, 1996 off-campus break-in. During the incident, two female University students were raped and a car, a television and some jewelry were stolen.
Burton, Puiassance Andersen, his brother Giezwa Andersen and Victor Porter were all implicated in the case. Burton is the last of the four to face charges in court.
Police collected DNA evidence in the case to incriminate Burton.
But Margulies called upon the expertise of attorney Patrick Sullivan to argue that since the lab technician who handled DNA evidence in Burton’s case has since been suspended for making mistakes, the evidence should be suppressed.
Of the 78 cases handled by DNA technician B.J. Khreiss, two had been botched in a test tube tray mix-up, Sullivan said.
Redding countered by saying that the mistakes were irrelevant, since they happened in an unrelated case.
“The important point is this: Is this lab qualified?” Redding asked. “Of what relevance is it that an analyst made a mistake in an unrelated case?”
Danielson promptly ruled that the evidence would stay in the case, but has yet to rule on whether the defense will have the right to cross-examine it by exposing prior mistakes made by Khreiss.
Danielson has also yet to rule on the admissibility of police interviews.
Burton and Puiassance Andersen were caught Oct. 9, 1996 in Eau Claire, Wis. after a high-speed chase ended in a crash with a tractor-trailer. Burton was driving the stolen vehicle; Andersen was the passenger.
Police identified the car as the same one stolen from the University women’s apartment. Burton and Andersen were interviewed the next morning by Eau Claire and Minneapolis police.
“There’s parts of those interviews we’re trying to keep out, and parts they’re trying to keep out,” Margulies said.
All four men were implicated in the rapes; so far none have been convicted of criminal sexual misconduct.
Giezwa Andersen pleaded guilty to two counts of robbery and will testify against Burton in exchange for other charges being dropped. He is serving a five-year sentence.
Puiassance Andersen was acquitted of criminal sexual misconduct but is serving a 12-year and 10-month sentence for burglary and robbery convictions.
Porter served eight months of a 12-month sentence after pleading guilty to first-degree burglary.
Pre-trial motions will continue this morning.
— Staff Reporter Brian Close contributed to this report.