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154445 - People v Johnny Ray Kennedy

The People of the State of Michigan,
 
Timothy A. Baughman
 
Plaintiff-Appellee,
 
v
(Appeal from Ct of Appeals)
 
 
(Wayne – Strong, C.)
 
Johnny Ray Kennedy,
 
Erin R. Van Campen
 
Defendant-Appellant.
 

Summary

In 1993, the body of Tanya Harris was discovered in an abandoned building in Detroit. The police were initially unable to develop any reliable leads to solve the murder. In 2011, new DNA testing of samples taken from Harris’ body revealed a link to defendant Johnny Kennedy, who was already serving a prison sentence for the 1995 murder of a similarly situated victim. A jury convicted defendant of first-degree premeditated murder, based almost entirely on the DNA evidence and evidence of his commission of the earlier murder. On appeal, defendant raised a number of challenges to the trial proceedings but, in a split unpublished opinion, the Court of Appeals majority affirmed defendant’s conviction. The dissenting judge concluded that the trial court’s refusal to appoint a DNA expert to consult with the defense deprived defendant of his constitutional right to present a defense. The Supreme Court has directed oral argument on defendant’s application for leave to appeal to address whether the trial court abused its discretion under MCL 775.15 and/or violated defendant’s constitutional right to present a defense when it denied his request to appoint a DNA expert. See People v Tanner, 469 Mich 437 (2003); Ake v Oklahoma, 470 US 68, 74; 105 S Ct 1087 (1985); Moore v State, 390 Md 343, 364; 889 A2d 325 (2005).