A defendant convicted of murdering a Juneau woman 31 years ago is planning on appealing a judge’s decision that denied him DNA testing.
Newton P. Lambert’s attorney, Sitka Assistant Public Defender Jude Pate, on Friday requested a final judgment on the matter be issued so that an appeal could be filed challenging the decision. Pate informed Ketchikan Superior Court Judge William B. Carey and Juneau Assistant District Attorney Amy Williams of the request during a court hearing via teleconference Friday afternoon.
In a motion filed earlier that day, Pate wrote he plans on arguing that the judge applied the wrong legal standard for not allowing testing on two items taken from the crime scene. Pate said earlier the testing would show that other people were present at Anne and James Benolken’s apartment the night they were murdered.
Anne Benolken, 61, and her husband James Benolken, 61, were found raped and stabbed to death in their apartment, the Lower F & L apartments on Admiral Way in Juneau, in April of 1982.
Prosecutors charged both Lambert and a codefendant Emanual Telles in connection to their deaths. Neither were convicted for murdering James Benolken, but Lambert was found guilty of first-degree murder for Anne’s death.
Carey last month denied Lambert’s application for post-conviction relief through DNA testing, saying state statutes require the DNA tests to establish the applicant’s innocence, not merely raise doubts as to guilt.
That ruling was in the state’s favor, as prosecutors had opposed the request due to the amount of evidence presented against Newton at trial. ADA Williams said eyewitness identification, circumstantial evidence and Newton’s own statements in and out of court tied him to the crime.
Williams also argued that it wouldn’t matter what the DNA testing would show since the two items to be tested were blood and semen found on James’ clothes, not Anne’s.
“You could find five DNA samples on Mr. Benolken’s pants, and it doesn’t prove that Mr. Lambert didn’t kill Ms. Benolken,” Williams said in a hearing earlier this year.
Now in his 50s, Lambert was 21 years old when he was convicted at trial in October 1983. He is currently serving a 99-year prison sentence.
Pate also requested in his motion that the judge allow for the legal process of discovery to continue in another application for post-conviction relief, which Pate brought under a different state statute. Pate argues a now-discredited FBI agent testified at Lambert’s trial as a hair comparison analyst, which he says warrants a retrial.
The defense attorney previously wrote in motions that FBI Special Agent Michael Malone identified a hair found beneath Anne Benolken’s body as “probably” belonging to Lambert. Pate said that provided the jury with the most direct link between his client and Anne Benolken’s murder.
But the Washington Post reported in 2010 that an internal investigation by prosecutors revealed that Malone gave false testimony about a hair analysis at a different trial, prompting the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Washington, D.C., to review more than 100 cases since the mid-1970s because of “potentially falsified and inaccurate tests by FBI analysts.”
Pate says the fabricated testimony of Malone has been used to support reversal of convictions in at least three other serious felony cases.
• Contact reporter Emily Russo Miller at 523-2263 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.