Centurion client Shawn Henning has been incarcerated in Connecticut for 27 years for a murder he did not commit. He was seventeen when he allegedly committed the murder in a “burglary gone bad”. His friend Ricky Birch was also convicted in a separate trial. Their habeas petitions were tried together in a six-week trial in November and December last year. Centurion attorney Jim Cousins and Connecticut co-counsel, Craig Raabe, represented Mr. Henning. Separate appointed counsel represented Mr. Birch.
Both Mr. Henning and Mr. Birch seek new trials alleging actual innocence, ineffective assistance of counsel and other constitutionally based claims. At the habeas trial we presented, among other evidence, DNA test results that exclude both Mr. Henning and Mr. Birch from the crime scene and exclude the victim’s DNA from stained clothes seized from Henning and Birch shortly after the homicide. We also presented expert forensic evidence that a shoe impression left in blood next to the victim does not match the sole patterns of shoes confiscated from Birch and Henning, and more important does not match the size of their shoes. The bloody imprint is considerably smaller– by several shoe sizes. The car they were driving, and according to the state theory was the getaway car, had no traces from the murder, even though the car had not been cleaned and contained their clothes, blankets, fast food wrappers and the like. Our expert testified that it would not be possible to have committed the bloody murder (victim stabbed 27 times, beat on head with a blunt instrument 7 times and his throat cut) and not have transferred some trace evidence into the car. Nevertheless, the habeas court ruled against us on June 21, 2016, basically ignoring the forensic evidence. We are appealing.