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State: Whalen DNA testing could result in federal sanctions

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BLOOMINGTON — Scientists with the Illinois State Police crime lab testified Friday that their testing of an unusual DNA sample submitted in the Donald Whalen murder case could lead the FBI to sanction the agency.

Whalen is serving 60 years in the 1991 death of his father, William Whalen, whose badly beaten body was found in the former Twenty Grand Tap, a bar owned by the elder Whalen in downtown Bloomington.

Lawyers for Whalen with The Exoneration Project argued Friday that the state police must show why scientist Ann Yeagle should not be held in contempt of court for refusing to perform DNA tests as ordered by a judge in 2015.

Yeagle testified that the DNA sample submitted for testing did not meet quality assurance standards and could put the lab's accreditation at risk and subject it to sanctions by the FBI, which owns the software used by the state lab for DNA testing.

Yeagle said she did submit a request for testing that she believed was conducted as outlined in a report by defense expert Dr. Karl A. Reich. The DNA profile was created by Reich from three DNA samples from knives collected at the crime scene.

Yeagle said she first learned that the testing that was done did not conform to Reich's intentions when she spoke with defense and prosecutors in April.

The state has objected to further testing of the DNA sample.

Donald Parker, administrator of the state's DNA database for the state police, said he has consulted with the FBI about the sample, which he submitted for comparison to the database.

When asked by defense lawyer Elliot Slosar if the FBI intends to sanction the state, Parker said "it's at the discretion of the FBI. I can't tell you what they will do."

Judge Scott Drazewski continued the hearing to Nov. 23. More testimony is expected then on the possible contempt citation.

Drazewski told lawyers he wants to know what sanctions could be imposed by the FBI and if further testing could be performed on the DNA sample.

Yeagle testified that additional tests as specified by Reich's opinion could be done, if ordered by the court.

The DNA-related matters have been argued for about six years in the Whalen case. A 2011 opinion by the 4th District Appellate Court and referenced Friday by Drazewski ordered testing on the knives.

"Science may not always yield an answer, but it is a tool that ought to be used. Only defendant's unyielding persistence brings us to a place and time where there may be an answer. He deserves the opportunity to seek and find the answer," opined the appellate court.

Follow Edith Brady-Lunny on Twitter: @pg_blunny


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