Appeals court upholds decision not to test DNA evidence from 1982 murder

The Alaska Court of Appeals affirmed a superior court ruling Friday and will not test DNA evidence in a 36-year-old double murder case in Juneau.

A jury convicted Newton Lambert of the murder of Anne Benolken in 1982 but acquitted him of killing her husband, James Benolken. Lambert, who was 19 at the time, was sentenced to 99 years in prison.

Lambert’s co-defendant, Emmanuel Telles, was later tried for both murders but acquitted. He died several years later.

In 2010, the Alaska Legislature passed a law allowing for post-conviction DNA testing. Shortly after, Lambert filed a request to test the two remaining pieces of physical evidence in the case — forensic samples of bodily fluids taken from James Benolken’s clothes.

A 2013 ruling by a Ketchikan Superior Court judge denied Lambert’s request, saying it failed to show how testing samples from James Benolken’s clothing would raise the probability that Lambert was innocent in Anne Benolken’s murder. Lambert appealed the ruling.

The appellate ruling affirms the superior court decision, saying that Lambert’s appeal “did not refute any of the other evidence against him.”