Evidence missing in 1987 slaying; Suspect's lawyer seeks dismissal.Byline: Gary V. Murray
WORCESTER - The lawyer for a prison inmate accused of raping and murdering a 64-year-old woman 20 years ago in her West Side home is asking that the charges be dismissed because of missing evidence, including a hammer recovered at the crime scene.
Steven M. Siemietkowski, 47, is awaiting trial in Worcester Superior Court on charges of murder and aggravated rape in the June 4, 1987, slaying of June Lynch in her home at 21 Sunny Hill Drive. An autopsy determined that Mrs. Lynch died of "asphyxia asphyxia (ăsfĭk`sēə), deficiency of oxygen and excess of carbon dioxide in the blood and body tissues. Asphyxia, often referred to as suffocation, usually results from an interruption of breathing due to mechanical blockage of the from smothering smothering
death by asphyxiation. Occurs where poultry are carelessly herded into a corner where they cannot escape and where they are piled four or five birds deep; they will die of asphyxia very quickly. See also crowding. associated with blunt impact injuries," according to according to
1. As stated or indicated by; on the authority of: according to historians.
2. In keeping with: according to instructions.
3. court records.
In February 1987, Mr. Siemietkowski worked in the victim's home, cleaning up after a furnace malfunction filled the house with soot.
He became a suspect in the murder investigation but was not charged until 2004, after a computer comparison revealed what prosecutors said was a match between his DNA DNA: see nucleic acid.
or deoxyribonucleic acid
One of two types of nucleic acid (the other is RNA); a complex organic compound found in all living cells and many viruses. It is the chemical substance of genes. profile and a genetic profile developed from biological evidence recovered from the victim.
The defendant's appointed lawyer, Terry Scott Nagel, filed a motion July 13 seeking dismissal of the charges against his client, who remains in custody on a parole violation and denied any involvement in the killing when questioned by police.
In an affidavit supporting the motion, Mr. Nagel said he discovered - when he went with Assistant District Attorney Thomas E. Landry to examine the physical evidence in the case at Worcester police headquarters - that "at least one box" of evidence could not be located. Among the missing items was a hammer recovered from the crime scene, according to the motion.
"Subsequent efforts by the police to locate these items have been unavailing," Mr. Nagel wrote. The defense lawyer also noted in his motion that there were no "evidence tags" establishing the movement and chain of custody The movement and location of physical evidence from the time it is obtained until the time it is presented in court.
Judges in bench trials and jurors in jury trials are obligated to decide cases on the evidence that is presented to them in court. of various pieces of evidence in the case.
Citing case law, Mr. Nagel said dismissal of the charges would be warranted if the court determined that evidence favorable to Mr. Siemietkowski had been lost as a result of the government's "culpable Blameworthy; involving the commission of a fault or the breach of a duty imposed by law.
Culpability generally implies that an act performed is wrong but does not involve any evil intent by the wrongdoer. mishandling."
As an alternative to dismissal, Mr. Nagel asked that the court exclude the use of DNA evidence Among the many new tools that science has provided for the analysis of forensic evidence is the powerful and controversial analysis of deoxyribonucleic acid, or DNA, the material that makes up the genetic code of most organisms. obtained from items "whose provenance cannot be adequately established," and that the prosecution be required to detail, before trial, the chain of custody of each piece of evidence it planned to introduce.
Timothy J. Connolly, a spokesman for District Attorney Joseph D. Early Jr., said yesterday that the missing evidence had not been found.
"We're preparing a response to the motion," he said, declining to comment further.
Mr. Nagel has also filed a motion asking Judge Frances A. McIntyre to reconsider her denial, last year, of a motion to suppress motion to suppress n. a motion (usually on behalf of a criminal defendant) to disallow certain evidence in an up-coming trial. Example: a confession which the defendant alleges was signed while he was drunk or without the reading of his Miranda rights. DNA evidence in the case.
Mr. Nagel argued in that motion that state correction officials unlawfully collected Mr. Siemietkowski's DNA sample in 2003, while he was serving time for a parole violation from a 1988 breaking and entering breaking and entering v., n. entering a residence or other enclosed property through the slightest amount of force (even pushing open a door), without authorization. If there is intent to commit a crime, this is burglary. conviction.
Mr. Siemietkowski's criminal history at the time did not include convictions that would have placed him on the list of felons whose DNA could be collected under state law. Charged in 1980 with armed robbery, Mr. Siemietkowski later pleaded guilty to a reduced charge 1. The smaller of the two propelling charges available for naval guns.
2. Charge employing a reduced amount of propellant to fire a gun at short ranges as compared to a normal charge. See also normal charge. of larceny larceny, in law, the unlawful taking and carrying away of the property of another, with intent to deprive the owner of its use or to appropriate it to the use of the perpetrator or of someone else. from a person.
An incorrect data entry made on Mr. Siemietkowski's Board of Probation record, however, reflected a conviction for the original charge of robbery and his DNA sample was taken on the basis of that error, according to an agreed statement agreed statement n. occasionally the two parties on opposite sides of a lawsuit or on an appeal from a trial judgment will agree upon certain facts and sign a statement to be used in court for that purpose. of facts submitted by Mr. Nagel and Mr. Landry in connection with the suppression motion.
The law has since been changed to allow the collection of DNA samples from all convicted felons.
In denying the motion to suppress, Judge McIntyre said responsibility for the error in Mr. Siemietkowski's criminal record that resulted in the collection of his DNA sample rested with probation officials or the Criminal Offender Registry Information board and not with police or correction officials.
In his motion to reconsider, Mr. Nagel cited publicity surrounding problems recently uncovered at the state police crime lab, including DNA profiles of a dozen sex crime suspects that were wrongly placed in the lab's database of convicted felons.
The 12 suspects were convicted of misdemeanors, but state law limits the database to convicted felons, officials said.
Mr. Nagel said in an affidavit that he was requesting reconsideration in light of "revelations of malfeasance The commission of an act that is unequivocally illegal or completely wrongful.
Malfeasance is a comprehensive term used in both civil and Criminal Law to describe any act that is wrongful. by the DNA lab, including an apparent pattern of seizing and testing DNA from individuals who did not fall under the statute authorizing such seizure and testing."
Mr. Siemietkowski's case has been continued to Aug. 28.
NOTE: 1987 INCIDENT
CUTLINE: Mr. Siemietkowski