Appeal from the Circuit Court of Union County. No. 99-CF-17 Honorable D. D. Bigler, Judge, presiding
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Justice Rarick
The defendant, Ricky Joe Franks, was charged in the circuit court of Union County with first-degree murder. Franks maintained that he had consensual sex with the victim but did not kill her. He was convicted on October 1, 1999, following a jury trial. The evidence at the trial included the results from the forensic testing of swab specimens from the victim's vagina, rectum, and mouth. An analysis of the deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) extracted from the semen found on the vaginal swab matched the DNA sample taken from Franks. The State did not have the rectal swab tested. Stacey Speith, the forensic expert who performed the testing, testified that the rectal swab specimen was not tested for several reasons. First, there was more seminal fluid present on the vaginal swab than the rectal swab. Second, the seminal material found on the rectal swab could have been the result of the trickle of semen from the victim's vagina. Finally, it was not feasible to test every forensic sample collected, because of the time and expense involved.
On March 29, 2000, Franks filed a motion pursuant to section 116-3 of the Code of Criminal Procedure of 1963 (Code) (725 ILCS 5/116-3 (West 1998)) seeking forensic DNA testing of the sample from the rectal swab. In his motion, Franks alleged that identity was an issue at the trial and that the rectal swab might yield evidence that another person killed the victim. On April 11, 2000, the trial court denied the motion. The State filed its response on April 12, 2000.
On appeal, Franks argues that the trial court erred in denying his motion for forensic testing pursuant to section 116-3 of the Code. He maintains that he made his prima facie case as required by section 116-3 by asserting that the identity of the murderer was at issue at the trial, that the rectal swab was not subject to testing at the time of the trial, and that the evidence to be tested had been subject to a chain of custody sufficient to establish that it had not been substituted, tampered with, replaced, or altered in any material respect. Franks contends that the trial court erred in summarily denying the motion where he had made his prima facie case and where the State had not yet filed a response.
Section 116-3 of the Code provides:
"(a) A defendant may make a motion before the trial court that entered the judgment of conviction in his or her case for the performance of fingerprint or forensic DNA testing on evidence that was secured in relation to the trial which resulted in his or her conviction, but which was not subject to the testing which is now requested because the technology for the testing was not available at the time of trial. Reasonable notice of the motion shall be served upon the State.
(b) The defendant must present a prima facie case that:
(1) identity was the issue in the trial which resulted in his or her conviction; and
(2) the evidence to be tested has been subject to a chain of custody sufficient to establish that it has not been substituted, tampered with, replaced, or altered in any material aspect.
(c) The trial court shall allow the testing under reasonable conditions designed to protect the State's interests in the integrity of the evidence and the testing process upon a determination that:
(1) the result of the testing has the scientific potential to produce new, non-cumulative evidence materially relevant to the defendant's assertion of actual innocence; [and]
(2) the testing requested employs a scientific method generally accepted within the relevant scientific community." (Emphasis added.) 725 ILCS 5/116-3 (West 1998).
The review of a ruling denying a motion for forensic testing pursuant to section 116-3 is de novo. People v. Urioste, 316 Ill. ...