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Innocence Project allowed to argue on Breest’s behalf

April 29, 2015

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) — A nonprofit group that works to exonerate wrongly convicted prisoners will be allowed to weigh in on the case of a man convicted of killing a New Hampshire woman more than four decades ago.

The Concord Monitor reports (http://bit.ly/1DJwTm0) that a judge recently accepted arguments from the Innocence Project in support of Robert Breest’s attempt to get a new trial.

Breest, now 77, is serving 40 years in prison for the death of 18-year-old Susan Randall, whose beaten and partially nude body was found on the frozen Merrimack River in Concord in February 1971. He has consistently said he didn’t kill Randall and, in December, the state Supreme Court ruled that he could present new DNA results to a court to determine if he should get a new trial. A hearing is set for next month.

In backing Breest’s request, the Innocence Project argues that the technique used to link hair follicles and paint chips found on Randall to those recovered from Breest’s car is unreliable, and that other testing was performed inaccurately. Those and other alleged deficiencies “would render the evidence inadmissible if offered today,” the group wrote.

The state has argued that Breest already has raised such issues numerous times, and that several courts, including the state Supreme Court, have rejected similar challenges.

Breest is in prison in Shirley, Massachusetts, to be closer to his wife. He has filed several appeals, and twice been denied parole. In 1996, a New Hampshire state board agreed to parole him if he completed a sex offender treatment program and admitted to the crime. He refused.

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