The case

Travis Kingsberry was convicted in 2017 of a 2009 murder and is serving a life sentence without the possibility of parole in NC. He has never admitted guilt, and there is no physical evidence or witnesses (who were not also defendants) that tie him to the crime.  Forensic evidence and reports show that the DNA recovered from items left at the scene matches other defendants, and would not match Travis, but this fact was not in any way taken into consideration by the court or jury, as the forensic expert who provided the report was never called to testify. This is an obvious gross oversight, and is a Brady violation.  The conviction hung on the testimony of a co-defendant turned state’s witness who was seeking a lesser sentence for himself by naming Mr. Kingsberry, and an ATF agent who testified that the witness was to be trusted.  This particular officer made false statements under oath, as documents will show. Despite ineffective assistance of counsel and these problems with the trial, Mr. Kingsberry’s formal appeal was denied by the court. We believe that even those who admit to crimes they have committed in the past should not have to serve time for crimes they did not commit simply because they are presumed guilty by the court. In a case where there is DNA evidence that has not been properly handled, there is a possibility that if it was to be re-examined by another expert, it could be seen as new evidence and therefore grounds for requesting a new trial.

The CODIS report shows that there was unknown contributor DNA found on items at the scene, but this DNA could not have belonged to Mr. Kingsberry. He was already a convicted felon serving time in Massachusetts on drug and firearm charges for which he was arrested in January 2009.  He was supposed to be released when he was instead arrested for this crime in 2014.  His DNA sample taken while incarcerated in Massachusetts would have already been entered into the national CODIS system by the time this test was run by the NC state forensics lab in 2013. If it did not hit on him when he was already in the system, the DNA is not his.  A forensic scientist working with DNA could have been called to testify to this, if that was something that the defense attorney had understood. Failure to hire forensic experts and present expert testimony should undermine confidence in defense counsel performance.  Many people in law (and law enforcement) do not know fully how CODIS works.  It would not be possible for someone’s DNA to be in CODIS and not hit. The odds of Mr. Kingsberry’s DNA matching that of the “unknown contributor” are next to zero. He could be excluded by simple and relatively inexpensive new scientific testing, if such evidence would be admitted. It is easy to get a new DNA sample to submit for comparison against CODIS STR loci.  Mr. Kingsberry’s defense should be able to have his DNA compared directly to the evidence from the crime for which he was convicted.