Famed forensic scientist Dr. Henry Lee was on the defensive Monday, firing back against claims that testimony he gave some 30 years ago wrongfully sent two men to jail for a brutal 1985 murder.
“Basically want to correct some inaccurate reports saying I did not conduct any tests. I did,” said Dr. Lee during a press conference to address the case at the University of New Haven.
“I want to correct the record. I did the test. We did the test. Towel been tested,” Lee said.
Sean Henning and Ralph Birch were convicted in 1989 for the stabbing death of 65 year-old Everett Carr inside his New Milford home. A key element of their convictions was testimony by Lee that a stain found on towel found in Carr’s home was blood. Decades later, it’s been revealed that the towel was never tested in a state crime lab, and that the substance on it isn’t blood. But Lee says he did properly test the towel, and it was up to the state to test more.
“My testimony, I say I conduct presumptive tests. Presumptive test is a chemical test. Only given preliminary identification it could be blood. Maybe not blood. That’s why police have to collect the items to send to library to do confirmation tests,” said Lee.
The Connecticut Innocence Project began looking at the case back in 2006. Their director said they believe Birch and Henning are innocent of the charges.
The state supreme court has ordered a new trial for both men. Sean Henning has been released from prison while Ralph Birch remains behind bars.
In a statement, Henning’s attorney Craig Raabe said:
“Shawn Henning was wrongly imprisoned from the time he was a teenager based on the false and misleading testimony of Henry Lee. It has taken 30 years to correct this injustice and we are very pleased with the court’s thoughtful decision.”
It’ll be up to the Litchfield State’s Attorney to determine whether the men will be brought to trial again. A spokesperson for the state attorney general says that decision is likely to come within several months, possibly sooner.