New DNA evidence off two cigarettes suggests that a UK man may have been wrongly convicted of the brutal murder of his lover in 1991, according to the BBC:
“Robert Kennedy is serving life for battering to death his casual lover Arthur Eathorne, 74, at his flat in Plymouth in 1990. At the 1991 trial, saliva on two cigarette butts was used as evidence that he was at the murder scene. But appeal judges heard that DNA tests pointed to two unidentified suspects. Tests on saliva at the 1991 trial showed the cigarettes had been smoked by someone with a “non-secreting” blood type. Mr Kennedy, now 43, is among the quarter of the population to fall into this category. But Mr Kennedy’s counsel, Henry Blaxland QC said DNA analysis now suggests the cigarettes were not smoked by Mr Kennedy – but by two unidentified suspects. It is also claimed, from an examination of the victim’s wristwatch, that the murder occurred when Mr Kennedy had an alibi.”
According to the Plymouth Herald, “The barrister said investigations after the murder, and further inquiries since then, had never thrown up a shred of forensic evidence to link Kennedy to the murder scene. And he told the judges they would hear fresh expert evidence on DNA traces found on two cigarette butts and a mug which indicated that ‘two people other than Kennedy were present in the deceased’s flat at a time when the murder may have been committed’. Mr Blaxland also pointed to the time shown on Mr Eathorne’s watch after his body was discovered – 7.08, either AM or PM – as compelling evidence that Kennedy could not have committed the murder. The watch was fitted with a self-winding device and, based on its estimated “wind down” time, the barrister said it was likely that Mr Eathorne was killed at a time when the prosecution accepts Kennedy could not possibly have been there.”
Kennedy, arrested 20 days after the murder, has been serving time for 16 years.