COOKEVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — Greg Lance, a Cookeville man who is serving two life sentences in prison for a 1998 double homicide he has always maintained he didn’t commit, now has the Tennessee Innocence Project fighting to win his freedom, petitioning for DNA testing in court Wednesday.
Lance was found guilty of shooting Putnam County couple, Victor and Alla Kolesnikow to death, and burning their home to destroy evidence in 1999.
On Wednesday, attorneys for the Tennessee Innocence Project petitioned to have items in evidence DNA tested, which is new technology that did not exist at the time of the 1999 trial.
“I am so happy that we are finally getting our day in court,” Joyce Argo, Lance’s mother said. “It’s also the DA’s job to protect the innocent, and Greg is an innocent man.”
The Innocence Project called forensic DNA expert, Catherine Cross, as a witness. She testified that evidence in the case, including the gun used to kill the Kolesnikow’s, bullets and a flashlight could all be tested for touch DNA, or the skin cells left on the item.
Cross added DNA could still be present on the evidence all these years later, however, there is no way to know unless a DNA test is conducted.
“I’ve been doing this for 30 years and have been surprised with some things that I never would have thought would give me a profile have given me a beautiful profile,” Cross said.
However, the state argued it’s likely the DNA would be contaminated or the results would come up inconclusive because the items were stored together and many people have handled them.
The state’s DNA expert, Tennessee Bureau of Investigation Agent Heather Lindsay, told the court if six or more people’s DNA is found after a test, the results are ruled as inconclusive.
“There’s a potential for contamination.,” Putnam County Assistant District Attorney Mark Gore said. “And when you get a DNA result and there’s a mixture of six or seven people, what does that tell us about the case?”
The Innocence Project attorneys also asked the court to allow a fingerprint lifted from a battery in a flashlight to be entered into a national database that didn’t exist during the 1999 trial.
Advocates for Lance’s freedom told News 2 there is no harm in DNA testing the items.
“It’s baffling that there is this amount of physical evidence that (the state) doesn’t want to test,” Hilarie Burton Morgan said. “That pushback doesn’t make any sense. If they’re confident in their case, they should be confident in this forensic testing which didn’t exist the way it does now 22 years ago.”
Burton Morgan and Lance’s family hope for a full exoneration. They believe DNA test results could cast a reasonable doubt in at least one juror’s mind, and possibly point to the two other people of interest in the case, which would help Lance get one step closer to freedom.
“Greg is so loved by all,” Argo said. “Greg is not the type of person who would do this.”
The judge will make a ruling on the fingerprint and DNA testing in 30 days.