There are certain notorious crimes that leave a lasting impact even on the people that only read about the violence in the newspaper or see it on the news. Perhaps a high-profile celebrity gets killed and the details are fodder for the tabloids for months. Or, maybe the crime that is committed is done so against the most innocent and harmless among us, and the violence leaves everyone asking how such an act could occur.
Nearly eighteen years ago, the city of Austin was rocked by such a crime with the murders of four teenage girls at an I Can't Believe It's Yogurt Shop in North Austin. Two young men, Michael Scott and Robert Springsteen confessed to the crimes eight years later, but ten years they spent in jail may end up being the totality of their punishment with the admission of new DNA evidence.
Scott and Springsteen were released from jail in June of this year, under the order of State District Judge Mike Lynch, while awaiting a re-trial in light of new evidence and confessions that may have been coerced. The key issue? Investigators are now able to analyze DNA samples in ways that weren't possible nearly two decades ago.
DNA discovered in one of the yogurt shop victims does not match that of Scott or Springsteen, and today prosecutors moved to dismiss the charges against the two men until it can be determined the owner of the mystery genetic material. Prosecutors had hoped to obtain a continuance in the case while further DNA testing was done. When Judge Lynch made it clear that the trial must move forward, prosecutors decided the best option was to start over with a new trial at a later date.
As Travis County District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg shared in a statement, "I believe it is the best legal and strategic course to take and is the one that leaves us in the best possible posture to ultimately retry both Springsteen and Scott.”
As is shown by the state’s case against Scott and Springsteen, criminal cases are often complex and can turn on the smallest piece of evidence. If you are facing serious criminal charges, you need an experienced criminal defense attorney to represent you through the legal maze. Please contact the law offices of Bertolino LLP in Austin, Houston, or San Antonio and let's see if we can help you.
Wednesday, October 28, 2009
Posted by Tony R. Bertolino, Esq. at 4:00 PM