Courts overturn crime dog convictions

June 24, 2009 at 11:33 AM

ORLANDO, Fla., June 24 (UPI) -- A Florida tracker who testified his German Sheperd could follow scents through water years after they were left has been discredited, officials say.

Three of the Brevard County men that John Preston helped convict have had their guilty verdicts overturned and a national legal group has just taken up the case of a fourth man, the Orlando Sentinel reported Wednesday.

Gary Bennett has spent more than two decades in prison for the murder of a 54-year-old woman primarily based on evidence Preston and his water-sniffing dog provided.

Centurion Ministries, a faith-based legal group in New Jersey, is taking on Bennett's case in hopes of overturning his conviction.

Prosecutors used Preston and his dog to tie Bennett to the weapons used in the murder.

The dog sniffed Bennett and then Preston said he found the same scent on crucial evidence.

Brevard-Seminole Public Defender James Russo is launching an investigation to find out how many other people Preston helped convict, the newspaper said.

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