Juneau Judge Weighs DNA Testing in 1982 Case

JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — A judge in Juneau is considering whether to order DNA testing in a three-decade old double murder.

Superior Court Judge William Carey said he will review transcripts and documents before ruling in the case stemming from the 1982 murders of Anne and James Benolken, according to the Juneau Empire (http://is.gd/CQOHF3 ).

Carey heard oral arguments on the matter Friday.

Newton Lambert was convicted in 1983 in the slaying of Anne Benolken and acquitted of killing James Benolken. Another man, Emanuel Telles, also was charged in the deaths and acquitted.

There were multiple suspects in the murders of the couple, whose bodies were found together on a bloodied mattress on their living room floor. At Friday’s hearing, public defender Michael Jude Pate said the DNA of blood found on James Benolken’s clothes would show the presence of other suspects, not of his client.

“That right there is enough for a theory of defense that would raise a substantial probability that Mr. Lambert did not commit the crime,” Pate said.

Assistant District Attorney Amy Williams said DNA evidence would have limited value, especially since Lambert was acquitted of killing James Benolken.

“You could find five DNA samples on Mr. Benolken’s pants, and it doesn’t prove that Mr. Lambert didn’t kill Ms. Benolken,” Williams said.

Williams noted that Lambert said during his trial that he was at the apartment in a “blackout state” the night of the killings, and that his fingerprint was found on a bottle “just inches from Anne Benolken’s mutilated body.”

Williams said the laboratory in possession of the DNA samples was poorly maintained and there wasn’t a properly documented chain of custody. Pate argued the state was subjecting today’s standards onto evidence from the early 1980s.

Lambert also is seeking to address possible false testimony from an FBI agent who has since been publicly discredited.

That issue won’t be addressed until the DNA testing issue is resolved.

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