Archive for Sunday, August 20, 2006

DNA evidence allowed in pool murder case; ruling on confession due Monday

August 20, 2006


— A man accused of killing a woman from suburban Kansas City lost his fight to keep prosecutors from presenting DNA evidence at his capital murder trial.

Johnson County District Judge Steve Leben, who issued that ruling on Thursday, said he would rule by Monday on defense motions to throw out Benjamin Appleby's confession and move his trial to another county.

Appleby, 31, of Litchfield, Conn., is scheduled to go on trial beginning Nov. 27. He is charged with capital murder and attempted rape in the death of Ali Kemp, 19, of Leawood.

Kemp was working at a neighborhood swimming pool when she was beaten and strangled on June 18, 2002. Her body was found in the pool's pump room.

Investigators found DNA evidence on four items from the crime scene: an ointment tube and its cap, a jogging bra and a T-shirt.

Defense attorneys Angela Keck and Sarah Swain argued last month that the Johnson County Crime Lab failed to follow proper procedures and that state appellate courts have not accepted the lab's DNA testing method.

In his 23-page ruling, Leben wrote the lab is properly accredited and that its protocols match generally accepted standards.

He also noted that the forensic scientist who performed the DNA tests testified last month that she had followed all of the lab's protocols. Others testified that the Johnson County lab's DNA testing method is predominantly used across the nation.

Keck and Swain, who is from Lawrence, also had argued that the crime lab used up the DNA samples on the ointment tube and cap, keeping the defense from performing its own tests.

Leben rejected defense claims of bad faith, saying the lab needed the entire samples for the state to get a good result. He also noted that the DNA samples from both items were used up in 2002, well before Appleby became a suspect.

Appleby, who left the area after Kemp's death, was arrested in November 2004 in Connecticut. His arrest followed a national publicity campaign waged by Kemp's father to find his daughter's killer.


Use the comment form below to begin a discussion about this content.

Commenting has been disabled for this item.