CHEYENNE, Wyo. — In a first for Wyoming, a court has ordered a post-conviction test of DNA.
The Wyoming Tribune-Eagle reported Monday (http://tinyurl.com/ar47zcd ) that District Judge Thomas Campbell issued the order in the 23-year-old case of Andrew Johnson.
Johnson was convicted of sexual assault and aggravated burglary in Laramie County in 1989 and was sentenced to life in prison.
Johnson maintains his innocence. Seminal fluid collected in the case has not been tested for DNA. Johnson could be exonerated if the sample excludes him.
According to the victim, Johnson broke into her apartment and sexually assaulted her.
The Rocky Mountain Innocence Center, a nonprofit that seeks to correct or prevent wrongful convictions in Wyoming, Utah and Nevada, has taken Johnson's case. The center teamed up with Cheyenne attorney Aaron Lyttle, who filed the DNA motion under a 2008 law that allows for post-conviction DNA testing.
"Andrew's is the first case to actually get post-conviction DNA testing in Wyoming," said Liz Fasse, a center attorney.
Laramie County District Attorney Scott Homar said officials are trying to find the evidence in the case for testing. Results depend on a backlog of DNA tests at the State Crime Laboratory.
"The turnaround time has been getting shorter and shorter, but I can't say for sure," Homar said.
The Rocky Mountain center is investigating other Wyoming cases. The center receives about 200 requests for help a year and takes on about eight, Fasse said.
"Certainly nobody wants to see an innocent person in prison," Homar said. "If something happened that was not in the interest of justice, we want to use all the tools at our disposal to fix it."
Campbell issued his order on Feb. 8.