Va. Governor Warner Pardons Two Men Cleared by DNA
Gov Warner pardons Phillip L. Thurman, 50, and Willie N. Davidson, 49. Thurman was convicted in 1985 of rape, and Davidson was convicted in 1981 of sexual assault. Both had already received parole after serving long sentences. Mary Jane Burton was responsible according to this article
"Burton, who died in 1999, worked in the state crime lab from 1974 to 1988 and habitually saved pieces of the evidence she handled - even before DNA testing had been invented. Over the years, she inserted into case files such things as cotton swabs and clothing fragments smeared with blood, semen and saliva. The files eventually landed in a storage facility. The samples were forgotten until 2001 when the head of the state Department of Forensic Science discovered a case file with an old cotton swab."
This amazed me. This lady saved evidence long before DNA testing was invented. Her career was not with out problems. You can read about that in this article from 2004. This highlight concluded her career. From a 2003 article
One of her last big cases was that of serial killer Timothy Spencer, the "South Side Strangler" whose chilling crimes were the basis of Patricia Cornwell's best-selling book, "Postmortem." Spencer, executed in 1994, was the first person sentenced to die as a result of DNA evidence. Cornwell worked in the state lab at the same time as
"According to what Mary Jane told me, when Patricia Cornwell refers to 'the lab,' she's talking about Mary Jane," Jan Betscher said.
I am not an expert, but it seems to me that Mary Jane Burton was way ahead of her time. I guess the handling and preserving of evidence standard has changed since OJ Simpson. Remember the cop kept evidence in his car trunk instead of turning it in right away. Heh.
Warner grabs the Headline, but it was the insight of science getting better by Mary Jane Burton that these men are cleared. I found these three articles interesting and I hope you do as well.