BRATTLEBORO -- The state will continue testing evidence in the case of a New York man whose murder conviction was overturned, following a judge's decision this week that murder charges can be filed if DNA testing supports it.
Judge John Wesley ruled this week that even though John Grega's murder conviction has been dismissed following DNA evidence that brought the original conviction into question, the state can file those charges against him if further DNA tests show that he might have been involved in the murder of his late wife, Christine Grega, in 1994.
Grega was convicted of murdering his wife in a West Dover condominium in 1995 and he served 18 years in prison before being released in August 2012 when new DNA evidence brought the conviction into question.
Almost a year later, in August 2013, Wesley dismissed the charges.
Grega's attorney asked Wesley to dismiss the murder charges permanently and to not allow the state to file the charge, but Wesley rejected that request in his ruling Monday.
"The murder of Christine Grega is still an active investigation," said Windham County State's Attorney Tracy Shriver. "The investigation remains open."
Shriver said the state has a long list of objects from the murder scene that still have to be tested for DNA evidence.
According to court records the state wants to test 15 items.
In her reply to Wesley to deny Grega's request to dismiss the charges with prejudice, Shriver said the state needs time to test evidence in a laboratory outside of Vermont because the state's lab was technologically prohibited from conducting the DNA tests on the 19-year-old evidence.
In court records Shriver said limitations in access to DNA labs have slowed down the process.
Grega's original conviction was dismissed because new DNA tests, which were not available at the time of the murder, showed the DNA from an unknown male inside the body of Christine Grega.
In the court papers Shriver said the presence of the unknown male DNA could have been a product of contaminated evidence.
Shriver also says DNA testing is an emerging science, and testing that might not be available today could be available in the future which could potentially shed new light on the case.
"We are waiting for the state of testing to advance in Vermont," Shriver said in an interview this week. "We are pleased the judge concurred with the state's position."
She would not say if the state will file new charges against Grega in the future.
In his Oct. 21 ruling Wesley said the Grega case was "so unique as to almost defy comparison with existing case law regarding dismissals."
He said the state has been trying to get the evidence tested and Grega's attorney was partially responsible for the delay, albeit on legitimate grounds, Wesley wrote.
"The court is satisfied that the dismissal does not arise from flippant derogation of the court's authority over its docket, but rather, is associated with the reasonable conclusion by the state of the need for further investigation of a crime for which there is no statute of limitation."
Howard Weiss-Tisman can be reached at email@example.com; or 802-254-2311, ext. 279. You can follow Howard on Twitter @HowardReformer