Scientist: Fingerprints from 1977 crime scene can't be tested for DNA

WICHITA _ Fingerprints taken from the crime scene of a 1977 Wichita murder can't be tested for DNA, a forensic scientist told a judge this afternoon.

Shelly Steadman, DNA analyst for the Sedgwick County Regional Forensic Science Center, testified that any trace biological material found on the fingerprint cards would not provide scientifically viable test results.

Based on Steadman's testimony, Sedgwick County Judge Jeff Goering overruled a request by Merrill Andrews to have the fingerprint cards tested in an attempt to prove his innocence.

Andrews, 51, has always maintained he did not kill Nola Babb, 91. The retired businesswoman was beaten in her home in the 3300 block of East 14th Street on Oct. 12, 1977.

But the fingerprint cards are the only physical evidence left in the case. Wichita police say all other evidence was destroyed by a court order in 1981.

Andrews requested the testing under a 2001 law, which grants people serving prison sentences for murder and rape the right to have evidence tested using DNA technology, which may have not existed at the time they were convicted.

In today's ruling, Goering ordered the protection of the fingerprint cards and left the option open for Maughan to produce an expert or lab, which could do such testing.

See more details in Saturday's Eagle and on