DNA as Evidence

Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Appellee v. Thomas A. Walsh, Appellant,
2015 PA SUPER. 222, 125 A.3D 1248 (2015).

This case against Thomas A. Walsh seems like a cut and dry case. But after several appeals, Thomas successfully requesting DNA testing on the main piece of evidence. The appellant, Thomas, was released from prison in 2003 from a prior case against his wife. After he was released, he was not allowed to contact or see his wife because of his parole and his wife had a PFA or a Protection from Abuse order. A few days after his release, Thomas drove through his wife’s neighborhood which violated his parole and her PFA. His wife than notified his parole officer.

Thomas then went to his wife’s home and waited for her to arrive home. When she did, he opens the car door and started beating her with a hammer. He also smashed in the ca windows and sun roof. He continued to attack her with the hammer until his daughter, daughter’s boyfriends and neighbors intervened.

Thomas requested that the hammer be tested for his wife’s DNA because if her DNA was not on the hammer, then he might be able to be proved innocent. However, this request was in 2015, nearly 12 years after the initial incident. Instantly the order on appeal was denied because the trial counsel was ineffective for failing to request the testing sooner. Thomas was convicted of two counts of aggravated assault, the first for striking his wife in the head with a hammer. The second count of aggravated assault was for smashing in the car window’s and sun roof, causing the glass to shatter and cause the victim’s injuries. Although Thomas thinks this will prove his innocence (for one count of aggravated assault), “an absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.”

http://www.pacourts.us/assets/opinions/Superior/out/J-S43042-15o%20-%201024089855554967.pdf?cb=1

Forensic Summary by Marissa Felinczak 

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