Florida prosecutor grants DNA testing for 2nd death row case

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — For the second time in recent weeks, a Florida prosecutor is granting DNA testing for a death row inmate who has maintained his innocence for more than four decades.

State Attorney Monique Worrell in Orlando has agreed to grant a request from 72-year-old Henry Sireci to test a denim jacket, a hair and half a dozen other pieces of evidence, including bloody towels.

The Tampa Bay Times reports that the evidence will be sent to the Forensic Analytical Crime Laboratory in Hayward, California.

Sireci was convicted of stabbing to death Howard Poteet, an Orlando used car lot owner, on Dec. 3, 1975, and 7-Eleven clerk John Leonard Short three days before. The case against him was based on testimony from seven people who indicated he admitted to killing Poteet.

Worrell also recently agreed to allow DNA testing on evidence that helped convict Tommy Zeigler, who was convicted and sent to death row for the 1975 murders of his wife, in-laws and an acquaintance at the family’s furniture store.

Previously, the prosecutor’s office in Orlando had denied the requests for DNA testing. But Worrell told the Times on Monday that it was not a tough decision to grant the requests. Before she was elected last year, Worrell had previously run the office’s division that examines old cases for possible wrong convictions.

“This is just about the fact that there have been advancements in DNA science that have produced exonerations, and when you have someone who is charged with murder, particularly someone who has been sentenced to death, I don’t think we have the luxury of ignoring advancements in science that may be able to prove their innocence,” Worrell said.