----- Original Message -----
To: Patrick Crusade
Sent: Friday, May 02, 2003 11:24 PM
Subject: [patrickcrusade] Lawyer: DNA Evidence Clears Man of Rape
Lawyer: DNA Evidence Clears Man of Rape
Thu May 1, 6:53 PM ET
By BECKY BOHRER, Associated Press Writer
BILLINGS, Mont. - DNA analysis has cleared a man found guilty of rape 13 years ago, in the second case in less than a year that discredits work by a former state crime lab director, Montana's top lawyer said Thursday.
The state will ask a judge to vacate the 1990 conviction of 40-year-old Paul Kordonowy, but it was unclear if he would be freed because he is also serving time for a separate conviction, Attorney General Mike McGrath said.
Kordonowy, 40, had always maintained his innocence in the case of a woman raped in 1987 at her home in Sidney.
In that case and at least two before it, forensic scientist Arnold Melnikoff had testified that there was less than a 1-in-10,000 chance that hair found at the crime scenes belonged to someone other than the suspects.
Kordonowy was cleared after a lab in California told the state this week that in its testing, Kordonowy was "eliminated as a co-contributor to the male DNA" taken from the victim, according to McGrath's office.
The review of Kordonowy's case came during an audit of all cases involving work by Melnikoff, begun after new DNA testing cleared another man who was also convicted of rape after Melnikoff's testimony. Jimmy Ray Bromgard was set free last October after serving 15 years in prison.
Melnikoff also testified against Chester Bauer, who was convicted of rape and aggravated assault in 1983. The conviction was overturned in 1997, in part because of DNA testing.
Melnikoff's work is also under review in Washington state, where he went to work after leaving Montana's lab in 1989. A telephone message left for an official in Washington was not immediately returned.
McGrath said Montana's review of Melnikoff's cases could be completed soon, and has uncovered "a fairly limited number" of potential problems.
Kordonowy's attorney, Peter Maltese, said he planned to seek an expedited parole hearing for Kordonowy.
He informed Kordonowy of the DNA results on Wednesday.
"His reaction was pretty obvious: elation. He was very happy," said Maltese.