Evidence re-examined for DNA in Jane Dorotik case - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Evidence re-examined for DNA in Jane Dorotik case

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SAN DIEGO (CBS 8) - A woman who is serving 25 years to life for murdering her husband may regain her freedom now that evidence is being re-examined for DNA. 

68-year-old Jane Dorotik won a request to have the evidence re-examined and her lawyer says that it could support her claims of innocence. Dorotik has already served 14 years of her sentence.

In a jailhouse interview with CBS News 8 in August 2001, Jane Dorotik said that jurors made a mistake when they convicted her of murdering her husband Bob at the couple’s 16 acre ranch in Valley Center. Dorotik instead offered up their ranch hand as another suspect.

"The farm worker who didn't show up for work that day, who owed us money. We know he drives a black pickup truck and his tire prints were seen," said Dorotik.

Now, 15 years after the murder, a judge has granted a new motion to have old evidence re-examined and tested for DNA.

Attorney James Whitehouse, who filed the motion on behalf of Dorotik, is questioning whether she would have gotten "a more favorable verdict at trial" had DNA testing been done, adding that results could prove someone else was present when Bob Dorotik was killed.

Court records obtained by CBS News 8 reveal the items in question include the rope that was found around Bob Dorotik's neck which was used to kill him, the scrapings from under his fingernails and a piece of hair photographed around his finger.  

"Well, I think this is very good news and I am optimistic it might lead to some new and different information that we didn't possess at the time of the trial," said Kerry Steigerwalt, Dorotik's lawyer during the murder trial. "We always believed she was an innocent woman and was not guilty of killing her husband so this might be a road by which there is some proof that maybe that assertion is correct." 

The new motion also claims police never fully investigated the ranch hand whose truck tire prints were discovered near where the body was found.

Instead, prosecutors focused on a separate set of tire tracks which were found near the body and unique to Jane Dorotik's truck. Dorotik's truck had three different makes of tires and her bloody thumbprint was also found on a syringe of animal tranquilizer in the couple’s bathroom.

Prosecutors say Dorotik killed her husband at home before dressing him in running clothes, putting his shoes on and tying his laces from the wrong angle before disposing of his body. Jurors convicted her and she was sentenced to 25 years to life in prison.

Prosecutors asked the judge to deny the motion, saying that DNA testing wouldn't prove Dorotik's innocence, but only suggest someone else might have been involved. They say the fingernail scrapings and rope still exist, but they fear the rope may have been contaminated after media was allowed to see it after her trial.

However, the judge ruled to allow the testing and now both sides will work together to determine when and how.

As for a motive, prosecutors said Jane Dorotik was planning to divorce her husband of 30 years and didn't want him to have part of the six figure salary she was earning as a high level executive at a mental health services company.

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