DETROIT (AP) — DNA tests have linked an ex-convict to the 1981 slaying of a 77-year-old woman who was found strangled in her Lansing home, according to a lawyer who is seeking to overturn the conviction of another man.
The disclosure was made Friday in a court filing in Ingham County. Michael Darnell Harris is seeking a new trial in the death of Ula Curdy.
DNA tests weren’t available in 1983 when Harris was convicted. But Michigan State Police recently found that a semen stain on Curdy’s clothing belonged to another man who was 13 at the time of her death, attorney Ed Zeineh said.
The tests were ordered by a judge. Zeineh said there were other evidence problems, too.
“Mr. Harris has for 33 years exclaimed his innocence, largely being ignored,” he said in a court filing. “Mr. Harris is asking for a diligent judge to take notice of the presented injustices in conjunction with the DNA exoneration and award him a new trial.”
Harris, 53, is serving a life sentence, but it’s not his only conviction. He was also found guilty of killing three more elderly women in Lansing, Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti.
A court hearing is scheduled for Friday but might be postponed. Prosecutor Gretchen Whitmer said her office hasn’t decided whether to continue to stand behind Harris’ conviction.
“When the DNA came back, we sent the rest of the evidence in the case to the lab for additional testing,” Whitmer said in an email Monday. “We will wait for those results so we can make a thoughtful and informed decision as to how we will proceed.”
The man whose DNA was found on Curdy’s clothing has 11 convictions in Kent and Barry counties, starting in 1992, according to the state Corrections Department website. They include assault with a dangerous weapon, cocaine possession and safe breaking.
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