A Bibb County judge has granted a request from Teresa Bowman Fargason’s attorneys, paving the way for evidence from her 1993 murder trial to be tested for DNA.
Fargason, 54, was paroled in January after serving a life sentence for the 1991 slaying of her 6-year-old daughter, Taylor.
The order cites state law that allows for the post-conviction testing of DNA evidence if there’s new technology that wasn’t available at the time the crime was committed.
Taylor was found dead on the side of a stretch of Bibb County road June 9, 1991. Fargason claimed the girl had disappeared on a shopping trip at Macon’s Forsyth Road Kroger.
At trial, prosecutors alleged that Fargason suffocated her daughter with a blanket in her bed because her boyfriend didn’t want to marry a woman with a child.
They contended that Fargason put the girl’s body and blanket in her car, dumped her on the side of the road and went to Kroger to establish a false kidnapping story and alibi.
Fargason’s lawyers, who include representatives from the Georgia Innocence Project, filed a motion earlier this year seeking to have Taylor’s nightgown and shoes tested for contact DNA -- a small amount of DNA that could have been left behind by her assailant.
They also sought to have hair evidence tested for DNA. Lab analysts at the time used testing that Fargason’s lawyers say no longer is considered valid.
The prosecution argued at a hearing last month that Fargason’s request should be denied, saying the evidence has been contaminated from multiple people who’ve touched the items.
DNA testing was available in 1993, and that testing wouldn’t have had a material effect on the outcome of the trial, they maintained.
In the order filed Friday, Macon Judicial Circuit Chief Judge Tripp Self reasoned that if a DNA profile can be pulled from the evidence and matched to a person included in a state database of DNA collected from convicted felons, “one could reasonably conclude that it might belong to Taylor’s killer.”
If the match exists and it had been known at the time of Fargason’s trial, “there would be a reasonable probability that the jury may have acquitted her,” Self wrote.
Fargason’s lawyers also have requested that a new trial be held in the case if a new suspect is discovered through the testing.
Self wrote that his granting the request for DNA testing “should in no way be interpreted as an indication” that he’ll grant the request for a new trial. He reserved that decision for a later date and said Fargason will have to meet an “exceptionally high bar” mandated by the law for a new trial to be granted.
To contact writer Amy Leigh Womack, call 744-4398 or find her on Twitternote>