In 1981, John Norman Huffington was convicted of murdering two people in Connecticut during a drug deal gone wrong. He was handed two life sentences in his trial and has been in jail ever since.
But Huffington may soon get a new lease on life. A Connecticut judge has ordered a new trial for him, on grounds that key pieces of evidence used to convict him over thirty years ago have now been ruled invalid. In particular, a hair sample and a bullet analysis used in the 1981 trial have both been discredited. Huffington’s attorneys say that without that evidence, Huffington may have never been deemed guilty of the crime.
“The judge did the right thing,” Huffington’s attorney Ryan Malone said. “Our view is this confirms Johns innocence.”
Although Malone says he hopes the state does not retry Huffington, State Attorney Joseph Cassily has already said he intends to do so. Cassily hopes the judge will reconsider his ruling, but if not he is ready to argue his case once again in court.
“The fact that there’s unaccounted for hair basically means nothing. If you eliminate that from the balance of the evidence you still have Huffington’s fingerprint on the bloody murder weapon,” Cassilly said.
In April, DNA testing revealed that two hairs used to convict Huffington in 1981 were in fact not his. Huffington’s attorney Malone says the FBI agent who testified against Huffington in court was a “notorious fraud” adding that “there is no question that the jury at the trial heard false testimony.” The FBI agent told jurors at the original trial that there was a 99.89% chance the hairs belonged to Huffington.
Huffington was originally charged with the killing of Joseph Hudson and Hudson’s girlfriend Diane Becker. Huffington was said to have shot Hudson during a drug deal. He allegedly then went to Hudson’s mobile home and hit Becker in the head with a vodka bottle before stabbing her.
Frederick County Circuit Court Judge G. Edward Dwyer Jr. said “there is a significant possibility” the case would have turned out differently if prosecutors had not relied on the invalid hair and bullet analysis. The prosecutors used the hair test as a central argument in both their opening and closing statements during the trial.
Huffington’s new court date has not yet been released.
Source: Washington Post