The Minnesota Supreme Court has denied another appeal from Michael Wayne, who was convicted in the 1986 murder of Mona Armendariz in Janesville and is serving a life sentence in prison.
Michael Wayne, also known as Michael Wayne Fenney, asked the court to analyze DNA taken from the victim's underwear. He argued it would prove two assertions: that he did not sexually assault Armendariz and that she was having sexual relationships with other people.
But the court decided the DNA wouldn't have proved his innocence, that the evidence might not exist in proper form, and that Wayne's request was made years too late. (For a copy of the decision, visit http://goo.gl/JZvrl.)
According to state law, someone convicted of a crime may ask the court to order fingerprint or DNA testing to demonstrate their innocence. But in his four-page ruling, Justice Alan Page details how Wayne's request doesn't meet the requirements for DNA testing.
First, the law requires that the evidence to be DNA tested has been protected and kept free of tampering or replacement. Page writes that that's not the case, as Wayne admits in his request that he doesn't know if the victim's undergarments are even available.
Second, the law requires the evidence must be “materially relevant to the defendant's assertion of actual innocence.”
Page replied, “At trial, evidence related to the sexual assault of Armendariz focused on the curling iron inserted into her vagina. Wayne argues that DNA testing will verify that he did not sexually assault Armendariz and would prove Armendariz was having sexual relationships with others. But Wayne's motion does not explain how establishing those facts is materially relevant to who committed the sexual assault with the curling iron.”
Finally, the request was made too late.
The last date Wayne could have made this request was July 31, 2007, Page writes. But he didn't make it until Feb. 14, 2012. And the court found that Wayne had knowledge of DNA testing as early as 1998.
Another, much shorter, opinion from Justice David Stras says the analysis on the timeliness of Wayne's motion is “based on a flawed legal premise.”
But Stras ultimately agreed with the dismissal of the appeal because, as described earlier by Page, the evidence has not been kept safe from tampering or replacement in the intervening 26 years.