The Free Press, Mankato, MN

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June 13, 2013

High court dismisses murder appeal

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.

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