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DNA test before execution

May 28, 2008

Re "Inmate is denied DNA test," May 23

As an attorney with the public defender's office in Los Angeles for the last 23 years, I find it difficult to understand how the state Supreme Court could deny a DNA test to an inmate who faces execution. The test requested was not available at the time of inmate Charles Keith Richardson's trial.

Shouldn't we be absolutely sure that a person is guilty before we subject him or her to the absolute and irrevocable penalty of death? The cost to our society of executing an innocent person far exceeds whatever costs and delays are involved in testing.

If the test shows that hair left at the scene of the crime does not belong to Richardson, can the court seriously contend that this evidence would not have a reasonable chance of changing the outcome of a trial?

I am mystified by the court's action. One can only hope that a federal court will reverse this incomprehensible decision.

Chris Apostal

Silver Lake

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