Court rejects new trial for doctor in wife death
BOSTON (AP) — A Wellesley doctor convicted of killing his wife after she discovered his secret life of prostitutes and pornography will not get a new trial, the highest court in Massachusetts ruled Thursday.
Lawyers for Dirk Greineder argued he was entitled to a new trial because his constitutional right to confront witnesses against him was violated when a supervisor testified on behalf of the DNA analyst who actually performed testing in the case.
The Supreme Judicial Court found, however, that Greineder’s lawyers “had a meaningful opportunity to cross-examine” the supervisor and said Greineder is not entitled to a new trial.
The court had previously rejected the argument but reconsidered it at the instruction of the U.S. Supreme Court, which cited its recent guidance on DNA testimony.
Greineder’s lawyer, James Sultan, said he will likely appeal the ruling to the U.S. Supreme Court.
Greineder was a well-known allergist at Brigham & Women’s Hospital when he was charged with beating his wife, Mabel, and slashing her throat during an early-morning walk near their home.
During his 2001 trial, he testified that his wife was killed by a stranger after the couple became separated during their regular walk in a Wellesley park. Prosecutors presented evidence about Greineder’s alleged trysts with prostitutes and his fascination with Internet pornography.
In arriving at its decision, the court found the trial judge properly admitted the testimony of Robin Cotton, the forensic laboratory director of Cellmark Diagnostics, a private DNA testing laboratory. Cotton testified that Greineder’s DNA matched DNA found on a knife and two gloves found at the crime scene. Cotton testified about the results obtained by an analyst who did not testify.
Although the Supreme Judicial Court found that Cotton’s testimony specifically on the data from the other analyst’s testing should not have been allowed, the court said it was not the type of error that would merit a new trial.
The ruling said Cotton’s offering expert opinion, based on the results of a non-testifying analyst, didn’t violate Greineder’s rights.
“Dr. Cotton’s expert opinion that the defendant’s DNA matched the DNA on items recovered from the crime scene was properly admitted,” Justice Francis Spina wrote for the court in the ruling.
The court said its decision was consistent with recent rulings from the U.S. Supreme Court on DNA evidence.
In responding to the ruling, Greineder’s lawyer cited an ongoing scandal at a now-closed state drug lab. Chemist Annie Dookhan has been accused of tampering with evidence and faking test results on samples in criminal cases. The scandal has jeopardized thousands of drug convictions.
“Under this decision, if Annie Dookhan’s laboratory supervisor had gone into court in any case in which (Dookhan) had done the testing and said, ‘Well, I’ve looked at Dookhan’s test results, and based on those results, it’s my opinion that this substance is cocaine,’ that would be hunky-dory,” Sultan said.
“It’s clearly not hunky-dory,” he said.
But Norfolk District Attorney Michael Morrissey, whose office prosecuted Greineder, said the court’s ruling “re-affirms that Mabel Greineder was the victim of a brutal domestic violence murder at the hands of her husband Dirk, the fairness of his trial and that the verdict was just.”