June 8th, 2011
A public hearing was held today at the Massachusetts State House regarding the Postconviction DNA Access Bill pending before the Joint Committee on the Judiciary. NEIP Executive Director Gretchen Bennett testified with Betty Anne Waters and NEIP exoneree Dennis Maher. Betty Anne Waters worked for 18 years to exonerate her brother Kenny. Much of her struggle was locating the evidence in Kenny’s case. Once she located the evidence it took her an additional year to obtain DNA testing. This testing lead to Kenny’s exoneration in 2001.
The committee was noticeably moved after NEIP’s testimony regarding the bill. Senator Cynthia Stone Creem commended Ms. Waters and Mr. Maher for their courage and perseverance.
This morning an op-ed by Dennis Maher was printed in the Boston Herald regarding the bill. In March 1984, Mr. Maher was found guilty of the rape and assault of two women in Lowell on consecutive evenings in November 1983. In April 1984, he was convicted of the August 1983 rape of another woman in Ayer. After the second trial, Maher was sentenced to life in prison. Additionally, he spent six years in prison trying to gain access to the evidence that ended up clearing his name.