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Court Rules 20-Year-Old Workout Pants Can Be Subject to DNA Testing in Aggravated Assault Appeal

In White v. The State, the Georgia Court of Appeals ruled that 20-year-old workout pants could be DNA tested in an appeal of an aggravated assault case.

The lower court previously refused to allow for the DNA testing because of evidence that the biological material would have deteriorated over that time. The court believed the conditions in the warehouse where the pants were stored and the fact that it was “touch evidence” instead of a bodily fluid would invalidate the evidence.

The pants had been stored for close to 20 years in a warehouse with no humidity or temperature control. A forensic expert said the combination of heat, humidity and light would have a “deleterious effect” on any biological samples that existed on the clothing. This led the trial court to conclude there was a significant likelihood these specimens would have been altered and the required testing would not provide conclusive results.

The appeals court’s ruling

Upon reviewing the case, the appeals court found the trial court misapplied the law regarding whether the State had satisfied the requirements of the biological testing law. The trial court’s order was therefore vacated and remanded back to the trial court for the case to continue.

The appeals court ruled there is support for the trial court’s belief that the biological material could have been degraded or altered, but stated this was not the proper question to pose to the trial court. Instead, the court had been charged with finding out whether there was a reasonable possibility the verdict in the case would have been different had the results of the DNA testing been available at the time.

This case could have a significant, long-lasting effect on how evidence is stored and analyzed in criminal cases. If you have been accused of a serious criminal offense, contact an experienced Georgia criminal defense attorney at James D. Michael, P.C. Call us at 404-857-4059 or contact us online to get started.