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DNA test could exonerate executed man

Jan. 5, 2006 at 10:55 PM

RICHMOND, Va., Jan. 5 (UPI) -- Virginia Gov. Mark Warner has ordered DNA testing that could prove the innocence of a man executed in 1992, The Washington Post reports.

The move marks the first time a governor has asked for genetic testing of someone already put to death.

The testing comes in the case of Roger Keith Coleman, a convicted killer whose proclamations of innocence sparked concern nationwide over whether the wrong man died in Virginia's electric chair.

"We have found that the latest DNA technology -- in certain instances where the other facts of a case support it -- has provided a definitive result not available at the time of trial or post-conviction testing," Warner said in a statement.

Coleman was convicted and sentenced to death for the 1981 brutal rape and stabbing of his sister-in-law, 19-year-old Wanda McCoy.

The tests, on vials of evidence that have been preserved for years at a California laboratory, are being conducted at the Center of Forensic Sciences lab in Toronto, Ontario. Results could be announced before Warner leaves office next week.

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