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Judge sets DNA test deadline in John Grega case

John Grega arrives in Windham District Court in

John Grega arrives in Windham District Court in Brattleboro, Vt., for a status hearing. (July 26, 2012) Credit: AP

A Vermont judge has given prosecutors planning to retry John Grega -- the Lake Ronkonkoma man accused of killing his wife in 1994 -- a three-month deadline to complete new DNA testing of crime scene evidence.

Windham County Superior Court Judge John Wesley ruled that testing on 16 pieces of evidence must be done by Aug. 23. The decision was made public Friday.

State's Attorney Tracy Shriver had requested nine months to complete the testing.

The Vermont crime lab is in possession of newly discovered DNA evidence -- skin cells from an unknown man -- that led Wesley to overturn Grega's aggravated murder conviction and order a new trial last summer.

Because that DNA sample is incompatible with those in the FBI's Combined DNA Index System, Shriver said she plans to test additional pieces of evidence in hopes of finding a DNA match. Both sides in the case have agreed that the testing be done by an outside, independent lab.

Grega, now 50, served more than 18 years in prison after being found guilty of sexually assaulting, beating and strangling his wife, Christine Veal Grega, 31, while on vacation in Vermont in September 1994.

Grega, a former NASA contract engineer, was released in August when new tests showed that DNA evidence found inside the victim came from someone else. No trial date has been set.

Grega, who has maintained his innocence, has pleaded not guilty. He is free on $75,000 bail while living in Lake Ronkonkoma.

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