WI Innocence Project urges state to fix DNA database - WAOW - Newsline 9, Wausau News, Weather, Sports

WI Innocence Project urges state to fix DNA database

MADISON (WKOW) - A law group is urging the state to improve how DNA samples are submitted to the database.

A week ago a State Justice Department Review discovered DNA from at least 12,000 inmates was missing from the database.

The Wisconsin Innocence Project works on 30 to 40 cases of inmates who they believe could have been wrongfully convicted with DNA as the backbone of their arguments.

Law Professor John Pray says now that they know thousands of inmate DNA samples are missing, they have to take a second look at dozens of cases.

Including ones involving convicted felon Walter Ellis, whose DNA is among those missing.

"I think it's possible Mr. Ellis could be connected to some of the people we were told doesn't match anyone and we are litigating some of those cases now," Pray says.

Ellis was the reason for the audit on the database after a DNA sample that was suppose to be Ellis' turned out to be of another inmate.

The Wisconsin Innocence Project was able to free Chaunte Ott, who had been serving 13 years for the murder of a teenage runaway in Milwaukee.

Ellis is now linked to that murder and police say his DNA links him to a string of other killings in Milwaukee as well.

The innocence project says if the way DNA is collected and filed isn't fixed, there could be more innocent people behind bars and real criminals on the loose.

"Some one messed up it's clear, but it doesn't matter who messed up as long as we getting the matter corrected and corrected immediately and we can rely on the data bank," Pray says.

The Attorney General's Office sent a letter to the Department of Corrections Tuesday asking to meet on how DNA samples are submitted to the database.

To see that letter click here.

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