DNA Evidence

Below is an account of the official malfeasance that took place around Joe’s case.

  • As early as 1989 when DNA testing was in its infancy Joe sought DNA testing on the evidence in his case but was denied access to the evidence by the Attorney General of Virginia.
  • Some years later Joe’s counsel learned that one of the two lead detectives in the case authorized that all of the physical evidence in the possession of the Norfolk Police from Joe’s case be destroyed (on October 1, 1979) before the first appeal in the case was even decided. Absolutely no credible legal or other justification could exist to destroy key evidence while the case was on direct appeal.
  • In 2003 Joe’s attorneys attempted to learn why the Detective authorized the premature destruction of evidence. The Detective told the investigator that he had no memory of ever authorizing the disposal even though written records with his signature confirm that he did just that
  • The calculated destruction of crime scene evidence by the Norfolk Police Department is not the only instance in which critical evidence from Joe’s case has disappeared.
  • Criminal evidence was removed from the victims’ bodies by the state medical examiner during the autopsy. Utilizing the forensic tests available in 1979, the evidence could not be matched to Joe. The serologist who performed the testing on the vaginal swabs which contained sperm from the rapist noted that the evidence would be retained for possible future testing. In 2002 Joe’s legal team filed a request with the Circuit court for Norfolk seeking the preservation of that evidence, and formal discovery motions requesting the Commonwealth to produce that evidence.
  • Though all the official chain of custody documents indicated that the evidence remained at the Lab, and though the Lab administration assured the court that they never destroy evidence at a hearing held on 21 January 2004, no one was able to explain where this crucial evidence is. The best that the Office of chief Medical Examiner and the Department of Forensic Science could come up with is that the evidence is mysteriously lost. Sorry.
  • There was a wealth of physical evidence collected by the police in this case, all the forensic testing (available in 1978) was performed on that evidence. None of that evidence matched to Joe. DNA testing would exonerate Joe, but the state as destroyed or lost the evidence.