The state Supreme Court has ordered a new trial for two men jailed for a fatal 1985 New Milford stabbing. The Connecticut Innocence Project began looking at the case in 2006 and now famed forensic scientist Dr. Henry Lee is fighting claims that testimony he gave decades ago wrongfully led to the men's convictions.
Sean Henning and Ralph Birch were convicted of stabbing 65 year-old Everett Carr 27 times, with key evidence from Lee that a stain on a towel could have been blood. The towel was not tested in a state crime lab until 2006, and the substance on it isn’t blood. Lee says it was up to the state to do follow up testing.
Additional tests of the crime scene revealed DNA of an unknown female on four key pieces of evidence.
Henning has been released from prison while Birch remains behind bars. The Litchfield State’s Attorney will determine whether the men will be brought to trial again.
“My testimony, I say I conduct presumptive tests. Presumptive test is a chemical test. Only given preliminary identification it could be blood. Maybe not blood. That’s why police have to collect the items to send to library to do confirmation tests,” said Lee. At the time, Lee was the director of the State Police Forensic Lab.
In a statement, Henning’s attorney Craig Raabe said:
“Shawn Henning was wrongly imprisoned from the time he was a teenager based on the false and misleading testimony of Henry Lee. It has taken 30 years to correct this injustice and we are very pleased with the court’s thoughtful decision.”