see aahttp: http://yogurtshopjustice.blogspot.com/\DNA EXONERATES SCOTT, SPRINGSTEEN IN YOGURT SHOP MURDERS:
Criminal Justice Activists Call for All Charges To Be Dropped
There is new and compelling DNA evidence in the Yogurt Shop murder case that exonerates all of the suspects arrested in connection with this 1991 murder of four young women in an Austin yogurt shop. Four men were arrested eight years after the murders: Forrest Welborn, Maurice Pierce, Michael Scott, and Robert Springsteen.
Eventually, Scott was convicted and sentenced to life in prison in 2002, and Springsteen was convicted and sentenced to death in 2001. (The Supreme Court’s decision in Simmons v. Missouri in 2005 struck down the death penalty for juvenile offenders, thus vacating Springsteen’s death sentence. Springsteen was 17 at the time of the murders.)
But Scott and Springsteen could be coming home soon. New comparison tests of DNA collected at the scene, conducted in April, 2008, concludes that male DNA recovered from the body of 13-year-old Amy Ayers matched none of the four men arrested. Therefore, it is possible that a perpetrator yet unknown was present the night of the murders and that he sexually assaulted Ayers. Scott’s and Springsteen’s lawyers have received approval to retest DNA from other pieces of evidence, including some of the victims’ clothing. These results further demonstrate that not a shred of physical evidence connects these young men to the crime.
Even in 2002, the state could not muster a case for indictment against Welborn, and Maurice Pierce, whom the District Attorney had named “ringleader” of the group. Both men were released for lack of evidence prior to trial. Even in 2002, the prosecution’s case was completely circumstantial, relying exclusively on the coerced and confused confessions of the two defendants. In 2007, both Springsteen’s and Scott’s convictions were overturned because their confessions were illegally used against each other at trial.
Tony Diaz, a lawyer working on Michael Scott’s defense, recently listed evidence from multiple scientific domains that, he claims, exonerate Scott and Springsteen:
• Ballistics: Gun cartridges and shells found at the scene did not match any gun owned by any of the defendants.
• Fire and crime scene reconstruction: there is no physical evidence linking the men to the scene; there is controversy over where the fire started, casting the men’s “confessions” into doubt. Defense attorneys have argued that the fire did not begin on the girls’ bodies, as Scott’s statement suggested, but rather on a countertop. Features of the crime scene, including a locked door (when the confessions claimed the young men had entered through a door that was bolted from the inside) contradict the prosecution account.
• Criminology and fingerprinting: None of the several hairs and fingerprints matched the suspects.
• Psychology: There is ample support for the fact that suspects in custody will invent false confessions under various kinds of pressure and threats like those facing Michael Scott during his week-long interrogation. At one point the interrogating officer held a gun to Scott’s head. Many statements in Scott’s confession do not match crime-scene evidence. The police received dozens of other confessions in connection to this case.
• Biology: No DNA collected at the scene of the crime matches any of the four young men.
Yet the District Attorney’s office persists in prosecuting Scott and Springsteen in spite of the shambles the new evidence makes of their already weak case.
In a writ asking that all charges against Springsteen be dismissed based on the new exculpatory evidence, attorney Joe James Sawyer wrote, “This exonerates Defendant Springsteen and makes it clear someone else committed these murders.” Prosecutors acknowledged that the previously undiscovered DNA did not come from either of the two men facing trial.
“This is a momentous breakthrough,” commented Jeannine Scott, wife of Michael Scott. “They got the wrong guys. They’ve had the wrong guys for nearly ten years. It’s time to end this charade.”
Mrs. Scott and other members of the Campaign to End the Death Penalty are calling for all charges against Scott and Springsteen to be dropped immediately. “There is no need for more trials,” said Lily Hughes, member of the Campaign to End the Death Penalty. “It would be ridiculous to spend the money and take the years of time it would take to re-try these guys when it’s increasingly clear that they are not the killers.”
Scott’s trial has been postponed pending the release of the full results of the latest DNA tests. Meanwhile, Scott’s supporters and other activists will engage in public education and protests to bring attention to the new evidence and call on the District Attorney to drop all charges against both men.