August 22nd, 2013
NEIP congratulates John Grega in a victory that has been nearly 20 years in the making; the state of Vermont has dismissed the charges against Mr. Grega in the case of his wife’s murder, a crime he has always maintained that he did not commit. On August 22, 2012, Mr. Grega was released from prison when DNA evidence excluded him as the source of the major contributor of DNA in the most relevant sample. Now, almost exactly a year later, Mr. Grega can breathe a sigh of relief as the state has dismissed the charges against him.
Mr. Grega was convicted in 1995 of killing his wife while they were on a family vacation with their 2 ½ year old son in West Dover, Vermont. Mr. Grega had no criminal record and no history of violence or mental illness, but police soon focused on him as a suspect in his wife’s murder. There were no witnesses to the crime and no physical evidence introduced at trial; Mr. Grega was convicted on circumstantial evidence alone and was the first person in Vermont’s history to receive a sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole. He now also has the distinction of being the first person in Vermont’s history to be released based on DNA evidence obtained under Vermont’s DNA access law.
Read the Notice of Dismissal here. The state is retesting existing evidence that had previously excluded John Grega, and hopes to enter the results into CODIS, the national DNA database, in an effort to find Christine Grega’s true killer. It’s important to note that while this is a huge victory for John Grega, his family, and supporters, the state has dismissed the case without prejudice, leaving the possibility of future litigation against Mr. Grega. It is an unfortunate reminder that in wrongful convictions, DNA exclusions and dismissals are rarely the end of the road.
Thanks to the efforts of Goodwin Procter LLP and local Vermont counsel, Ian Carleton, Mr. Grega is one step closer to enjoying his hard fought for freedom. Goodwin Procter took on the case as a member of NEIP’s pro bono network, and we are proud to call the firm one of our biggest continual supporters.