Idaho: Judge denies retrial for
Idaho death row inmate
A state judge has
denied a new trial motion filed by an Idaho death row inmate convicted
in the beating death of a former girlfriend 20 years ago.
Inmate George Junior Porter, 52, sought a new trial based on DNA tests
of evidence, including fingernail scrapings from Jones and hair and
Jones was convicted in the 1988 slaying
of Theresa L. Jones. The body of the 29-year-old Kamiah woman was found
in her bed covered in a sleeping bag. Evidence suggested she was beaten
Second District Judge John Bradbury
concluded that the new evidence was inconclusive and unlikely to provoke
a jury to reach a different verdict in the case.
George Porter was
convicted of first degree murder for the death of his former girlfriend
Teresa Jones. Responding to a report that Jones had not been seen for
several days, police found Jonesí body in the bedroom of her residence,
naked and covered with a sleeping bag, on December 26, 1988.
One of the officers testified that Jones had been
severely beaten in the face, head, and lower body. Officers also
testified that they found several clumps of human hair near the body
which were of the same length and color as that of the victim. The
pathologist who performed Jonesí autopsy later testified that there were
between three and six areas on Jonesí scalp where the hair appeared to
have been pulled out in large clumps.
Approximately eleven days before Porterís trial, the
State disclosed that it intended to call several of Porterís former
girlfriends to testify that Porter had, while beating them, also pulled
out clumps of their hair.
The State presented testimony of Lewis County Sheriff
Don Fortney and Deputy Sheriff Randal Wadley, as well as an investigator
for the Idaho Attorney Generalís Office, as an offer of proof regarding
whether, in their experience with domestic violence crimes, they had
found the act of pulling out clumps of hair unusual. After hearing this
testimony, the district court, although declining to rule on its
admissibility, informed Porterís counsel that he should be prepared to
meet the evidence regarding Porterís prior misconduct.
During trial and over objection from Porterís counsel,
the State introduced evidence that Porter had previously battered
several of his girlfriends and, in the course of those beatings, pulled
out clumps of their hair. The district court concluded that the evidence
of Porterís hair pulling was admissible as demonstrating a particular
signature or modus operandi. On January 26, 1990, the jury found Porter