CHARLESTON, W.Va. — A West Virginia judge hasn’t decided whether a man convicted of killing a Huntington fast-food restaurant manager nearly 30 years ago will get a new trial because a discredited former state police forensic expert testified at his first trial.
Phillip A. Ward was sentenced to life in prison in 1988 for the murder of Carol Carter, who was robbed and beaten to death, The Charleston-Gazette Mail reported (http://bit.ly/2c9PEe7 ).
Then-serologist Fred Zain testified at Ward’s 1987 trial. The state Supreme Court later discredited the expert’s work, finding that he gave false testimony for over 10 years about DNA evidence found at crime scenes.
Last week, the 1987 sexual assault case against former Charleston Wheelers baseball player Jimmie Gardner was dismissed by prosecutors. A judge in March overturned Gardner’s convictions of sexual assault and burglary, saying the trial had been tainted by false testimony from Zain, whose discredited work resulted in millions of dollars paid to wrongfully convicted defendants.
In October 2015, Ward’s lawyer, Connor Robertson asked Cabell County Circuit Judge Alfred Ferguson to throw out Ward’s conviction and grant him a new trial because of Zain’s false testimony.
Ferguson has not issued a ruling yet. Robertson had also asked Ferguson to consider new DNA evidence in the case.
“Mr. Ward is anxiously awaiting Judge Ferguson’s ruling,” Robertson said Sunday. “He understands DNA issues are complex, but the evidence is indisputable that Fred Zain lied to the jury in his case.”
Information from: The Charleston Gazette-Mail, http://wvgazettemail.com.