innocence blog

A Web log for the Innocence Institute of Point Park University

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

New Testing In Whitley Case

By: Bill Moushey

New DNA testing of five hairs found inside a hat worn by the killer of a night manager of a McDonalds near Kennywood Park in 1988 is part of a review to determine whether a man who has served 18 years for the crime should be released, re-tried or left to serve his life sentence.

The new tests were disclosed yesterday during a status conference in the appeal by Drew Whitley, 50, formerly of West Mifflin, who was convicted of second degree murder in the grisly slaying of 23-year-old Noreen Malloy and sentenced to life in prison while steadfastly maintaining his innocence.

A spokesman for District Attorney Stephen A. Zappala said the new tests are part of the prosecution’s on-going review of the case that began earlier this month when six other hairs found in a nylon mask worn by Ms. Malloy’s killer did not match Mr. Whitley’s DNA.

During a status conference yesterday before Allegheny County Common Pleas Judge Anthony Mariani, who recently took over the case from Judge Walter Little, prosecutors said the second DNA tests should be completed before a hearing on Mr. Whitley’s post-conviction appeal May 1, 2006. After the latest tests, 11 of the 39 hairs found on clothing presumably worn by the killer will have been examined.

Aside from the new DNA evidence, Mr. Zappala’s staff is reviewing testimony from witnesses who implicated Mr. Whitley in the killing. Among them are a convicted double-murderer who said Mr. Whitley confessed in prison to the crime and a two-day employee of McDonalds whose statements were riddled with inconsistencies.

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