Lawyers OK DNA Testing on Dog Hair Used in Murder Convictions

State lawyers have agreed to allow DNA testing of dog hair that was used to convict Wayne Williams, who has been blamed for the murders of two dozen children and young men in the late 1970s and early '80s.

Williams was convicted in 1982 of murdering Nathaniel Cater, 27, and Jimmy Ray Payne, 21, and sentenced to two consecutive life terms. Afterward, officials declared Williams responsible for 22 other deaths and those cases were closed.

The decision Monday to allow DNA testing came in a response to a filing as part of Williams' efforts to appeal his conviction and life sentence.

But while saying they had no objections to the testing, state lawyers also said it "would not change the results of this trial. Defendant cannot show that DNA tests, no matter what the results, would create a reasonable probability that the verdict would have been different at the time of trial."

Williams' lawyer, Jack Martin, asked a Fulton County Superior Court judge to allow DNA tests on dog and human hair and blood that might help win Williams a new trial.

During his original trial, dog hairs found on most victims were consistent with hairs removed from the Williams' family dog. During the trial, witnesses testified they saw Williams with the victims even though most of the case against him was based on analysis of fiber and hair evidence found in Williams' car and his parents' home, where he lived.

"The good news is they've agreed to DNA testing," Martin said. "We just want to see what the testing shows and we'll argue about what it means later. It's odd that they should claim the dog hair evidence doesn't make any difference when they made such a big deal about it at trial."

Williams, who is black, has contended he was framed. He has maintained that officials covered up evidence of Ku Klux Klan involvement in the killings to avoid a racial conflict in the city, which investigators have denied.