Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Old Evidence Turns Up in Contested Rape Conviction

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Old Evidence Turns Up in Contested Rape Conviction

Article excerpt

A judge ordered DNA testing on a bag of old evidence from a serial rape investigation that was discovered in the basement of the Homestead police station Friday morning and brought to a hearing about whether any evidence still remained.

Allegheny County Common Pleas Judge Philip Ignelzi said the contents of the bag will be tested to determine whether the DNA matches that of Dennis Foy, 51, who is serving 100 to 200 years for four rapes of elderly Homestead women in 1987.

He also ordered DNA testing on other evidence from another rape for which Foy was not charged but was a suspect.

The developments came during a lengthy hearing in which lawyers from the Innocence Project are trying to determine whether the county thoroughly searched for some 100 pieces of evidence from the rapes that the prosecution said were destroyed in a 1996 Downtown flood.

The county has said repeatedly that no evidence was left, but some turned up in a corner room of the Homestead police station basement after Deputy District Attorney Ron Wabby asked Homestead officers to search their building.

The bag contained glass vials and envelopes related to the rape of one of the victims on June 18, 1987.

The Homestead police department has moved numerous times in the three decades since, and the bag was apparently moved each time along with everything else.

Mr. Wabby said in court that the bag should have been turned over to the county police long ago.

West Mifflin Mayor Chris Kelly, Homestead police chief at the time of the rapes, said all evidence would have been sent to the crime lab and returned to Homestead, but he didn't know enough about the bag to comment on why it was still there.

No one could say Friday what the evidence could yield until it is examined by a private lab hired by the Innocence Project. For now, it remains in custody of county police at the crime lab.

Judge Ignelzi said the fact that prosecutors came forward with the bag when they found it "shows absolutely good faith. …

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