County of Conviction: BerkeleyConvicted of: 1st Degree MurderSentence: Life without Mercy
Time Served: 20 years
WVIP Involvement: Client for DNA Testing
Mr. Michael Newell was convicted in the death of his niece based on the use of circumstantial evidence and testimony by an FBI forensic lab examiner. The FBI examiner testified to Mr. Newell being the perpetrator of the crime through the theory of hair microscopy. In December 2014, the FBI sent a letter to Mr. Newell and the Prosecuting Attorney that the FBI examiner had erred in his testimony about hair microscopy. The FBI stated in their letter that the testimony exceeded the limits of science and they were willing to grant Mr. Newell free DNA testing to remedy the testimony. As a result, the West Virginia Innocence Project along with the Prosecuting office in charge of Mr. Newell’s case filed an Agreed Order which granted Mr. Newell DNA testing on the various samples retrieved during the investigation of his case. The various samples have been sent over to the FBI lab for testing at no cost to the State and we are currently awaiting the result.