Defense lawyer in murder case claims DNA evidence is flawed

Maxwell Sherman, arrested in the homicide of Lauren Maxwell Sherman, arrested in the homicide of Lauren Daverin, arrives for arraignment at the Nassau County Courthouse in Mineola. (Aug. 28, 2013) Photo Credit: Howard Schnapp

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A defense lawyer Tuesday questioned the quality of DNA evidence that led to the indictment of his 19-year-old client on charges of sexually assaulting and killing a young woman on a footbridge in Rockville Centre last year.

"There are inconclusive results, and there are mixed results," attorney William Petrillo said in Nassau County Court in Mineola, referring to the paperwork he had seen on DNA evidence against Maxwell Sherman of Long Beach.

Judge Meryl Berkowitz said she would conduct a hearing later this year on Petrillo's request for a review of the DNA evidence to see whether it is sufficient to support an indictment.

Sherman is charged with second-degree murder and first-degree sexual assault in the strangling death of Lauren Daverin-Gresham, 18, of Lynbrook.

Her partly clothed and bloodied body was found Aug. 22 on the Mill Pond footbridge spanning eastbound Merrick Road in Rockville Centre. Sherman was arrested two days later.

Petrillo said prosecutors had rushed to get an indictment against Sherman following his arrest to avoid having to grant him a preliminary hearing at which evidence in the case would become public.

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That "rush to presentment" to the grand jury might have resulted in shortcomings in the scientific procedures used to analyze the DNA, he said.

Assistant District Attorney Daryl Levy did not comment on the quality of the DNA evidence but said the prosecution opposed the release of the grand jury material, which is usually secret.

"Defense attorney is asking the court to speculate" on what was presented to the grand jury, Levy told the judge.

The judge adjourned the case to Aug. 14, but the hearing was not expected to take place until later in the year, Petrillo said outside court.

In addition to challenging the scientific evidence in what is called a Frye hearing, there also will be pretrial hearings on the admissibility of any statements Sherman might have made to police, any identification testimony and any physical evidence, such as a duffel bag and its contents, that police found.

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