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Florida bill expanding DNA testing could solve cold cases, exonerate the innocent

A new Florida bill could lead the way to put more criminals behind bars and freeing innocent people. It would allow for more retesting of DNA from crime scenes even years after it happens.

DNA tests can be the difference between jail and freedom; justice and cases that go cold. Five years ago, someone murdered Angela McClary’s son, Deonte Redding, and his half brother, Zachary.

“There are so many unsolved cases out there that have gone overlooked and any little speck of DNA would be able to help,” McClary said. “I’m praying and hoping that someone would come forward in Deonte and Zachary’s case to solve it.”

The bill was inspired by a death row inmate who claims a jury wrongly convicted him. Under current law, the state repeatedly denies his requests for DNA retesting.

McClary is all for a proposed bill that could allow for more retesting of DNA in old cases. Currently, that is only done if a defendant proves the DNA will exonerate or mitigate his or her sentence.

Pamella A. Seay, a justice studies professor at Florida Gulf Coast University and a practicing attorney, said the bill would simplify the process.

“You merely need to identify the defendant or an accomplice as part of the crime or not part of the crime, so it’s merely a matter of identification and not exoneration,” Seay said. “So you’re looking at local, state, and national criminal databases.”

McClary said the bill offers her hope because it helps her believe the person who killed those boys will not get away with murder.

“I really believe they are trying,” McClary said.

Reporter:Breana Ross
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