Innocence Project of Florida Asks State Attorney to Test DNA in Case of Wayne Tompkins
Serious Doubts Remain About the Guilt of a Florida Man Executed February 11
The Innocence Project of Florida today sent a letter to the Hillsborough County State Attorney’s Office asking for their help in answering lingering questions surrounding Wayne Tompkins’ guilt. “Though Mr. Tompkins’ case ended with his execution on February 11th,” wrote Seth Miller, Executive Director of the Innocence Project of Florida, “it remains an open question as to whether he committed this murder, and robust scientific means can and should be employed to answer that question.”
Mr. Tompkins was convicted of murdering his girlfriend’s daughter, Lisa DeCarr, in 1983. One year after Ms. DeCarr disappeared from her home, skeletal remains were found under her porch.
The identity of the body has remained an enduring question in the Tompkins case. Authorities identified the body as Lisa DeCarr’s based solely on the fact that Ms. DeCarr and the body both had a single occluded tooth. The Innocence Project of Florida called this method of identification “wholly unpersuasive” in a letter they wrote to Florida Governor Charlie Crist urging him to stay the execution. More troubling are the signed affidavits from several witnesses stating that they had seen or had contact with Ms. DeCarr since the date of the supposed murder.
Governor Crist stayed Mr. Tompkins’ execution in 2008 and ordered DNA testing on the bone fragments found under Ms. DeCarr’s porch. When those results came back inconclusive, Mr. Tompkins’ execution was reset.
Since his execution, there has been speculation that Lisa DeCarr’s killer also murdered another young woman, Jessie Albach. Because some in law enforcement believe the same person is responsible for both murders, DNA testing of any remaining physical evidence in the Albach case may shed light on Wayne Tompkins’ innocence of the DeCarr murder. IPF has requested that DNA testing be performed on remaining evidence in both the DeCarr and Albach cases.
The Innocence Project of Florida is hoping that the State Attorney’s Office wil agree to DNA testing at a private lab at IPF’s expense. Private laboratories, such as Forensic Science Associates in Richmond, California, are able to conduct advanced methods of evidence collection and DNA testing not currently performed at FDLE or FBI labs. Should testing demonstrate that the body did not belong to Lisa DeCarr, Florida will become the first state scientifically shown to have executed an innocent man. This same State Attorney’s office had previously agreed to send biological evidence to Forensic Science Associates for DNA testing in the case of Alan Crotzer. Mr. Crozter was exonerated in 2006 after results of that testing proved his innocence of a 1981 rape.
Miller told the State Attorney’s Office, “It is our hope that you will again apply the same reasoned judgment to the instant case, agree that this is the course of action that justice requires, and work with the Innocence Project of Florida to ensure that appropriately swift action is taken to put to rest these remaining uncertainties.”
The Innocence Project of Florida is a 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to finding and freeing innocent people in Florida prisons. IPF consulted on the DNA issues in the case of Wayne Tompkins.
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