One of America’s most recognizable faces, Snoop Dogg, sent a powerful message to Delaware County District Attorney Katayoun Copeland Monday, intensifying the push to give a Chester man who has been sitting in prison for over 39 years a DNA test.
We broke the story … Law & Order SVU star Ice-T called on Delaware County District Attorney Katayoun Copeland last week to test evidence with modern technology in an 1980 murder case in a video to yc.news & The Blast.
“Leroy Evans what up this [is] big Snoop Dog, keep your head up,” Snoop Dogg said in a video to The Blast & yc.news. “That DNA evidence is going to come through for you loved one.”
Leroy Evans, 61, was found guilty in 1980 of killing Emily Leo on no evidence other than the word of his co-defendant, Anthony Jones, who recanted his statement in 2016.
Emily Leo was lured to a home under the guise that she would be selling some of her Avon beauty products. However, she was bludgeoned and strangled with a clothing line.
Nearly 39 years after the notorious ‘Avon Lady’ murder in Chester, Delaware County, celebrities have joined forces to call on the Delaware County District Attorney’s Office to test DNA that could exonerate Leroy Evans from the murder.
If Evans is exonerated, he would have spent more years behind bars than any other wrongfully imprisoned person in American history, according to the Innocence Project.
According to the findings of Evans’ defense attorney, Michael J. Malloy, the case again him was built singularly on eyewitness testimony that was recanted in an hour-long confession conducted by Malloy on July 26, 2016 at SCI Forest in Marienville, Pennsylvania.
“As I began to read the trial testimony, certain facts made no sense,” Evans’ defense attorney, Michael J. Malloy told us. “First of all, why was there no blood present at a brutal, bloody crime scene.”
More than 30 years later, Malloy believes he found that evidence — and that it clears Evans’ name. In 2016, Jones gave a nearly 70-page sworn statement, recanting his trial testimony that implicated Evans.
“This case is more than about justice. This is a case about a kind, gentle man who holds no grudges against the person or people that have taken away his life for nearly 40 years,” Malloy told us. “I don’t believe I can live with myself unless I fight this to the end.”
Copeland, a longtime Republican, was appointed in January 2018 to serve out the remainder of former District Attorney Jack Whelan’s term when he was elected to serve as a judge at the Delaware County Court of Common Pleas.
“The Delaware County Court of Common Pleas has ruled that any results from DNA testing of the 39-year-old evidence would be inconclusive and not prove the defendant’s innocence,” District Attorney Katayoun Copeland told us. “The evidence was collected before DNA analysis existed and stored in conditions that would have resulted in the degradation of any DNA that may or may not have been present.”
However, in 1982, Nicholas Yarris of Chester was convicted of murder, rape, and abduction. He was sentenced to death. In 1989, he became one of Pennsylvania’s first death row inmates to demand postconviction DNA testing to prove his innocence.
All failed to produce conclusive results. With hope waning, a breakthrough occurred in 2003 when Dr. Edward Blake conducted a final round of testing and determined that Yarris had no involvement in the brutal murder.
On September 3rd, 2003, based on Dr. Blake’s results, the court vacated Yarris’s conviction and he became the 140th person in the United States to be exonerated by postconviction DNA testing – the 13th DNA exoneration from death row.
Delaware County District Attorney Copeland added that the evidence in Evans’ case “was collected before DNA analysis existed and stored in conditions that would have resulted in the degradation of any DNA that may or may not have been present.”
“Justice is possible for those who fight,” Yarris told us. “Justice is possible for those who hope. The same prosecuting office told me that there was no DNA to test in my case but my mother launched her own investigation into Delaware County, and after spending over two decades on death row for a crime that I did not commit, I was exonerated.”
“Stay strong,” Snoop continued. “I know you waited 39 years but it’s going to come through for you.”
District Attorney Copeland noted that “calls by candidates and celebrities for DNA testing are acts of self-promotion that show an ignorance of the limits of DNA testing and the law.”
Jack Stollsteimer, a Democratic candidate for Delaware County District Attorney and former Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania also chimed in, calling on District Attorney Copeland to reopen the case.
“As more people like Snoop learn of this case they all ask the same question: why won’t DA Copeland agree to the request for DNA testing?” Stollsteimer told us. “This case calls out for fair justice, an issue that goes beyond politics and to the core of who we are as a society.”
Delaware County Councilman Kevin Madden also voiced his concern regarding Evans’ fight for DNA testing. “From my understanding of the case, the only evidence implicating Mr. Evans was the testimony of a 16-year-old co-defendant who was being threatened with the death penalty unless he came up with an accomplice – testimony that this man has now admitted was made up,” Madden told us.
“I join the call to DA Copeland to re-open the case, test for DNA, and perhaps put an end to the gross miscarriage of justice that has cost a man his life.”
Evans’ lawyer, Michael J. Malloy, lost a recent battle in a Delaware County courtroom where he sought DNA testing on the clothesline, the victim’s clothing, two pocketbooks, a date planner and other items allegedly grabbed by Evans during the murder. The murder weapon was never recovered.
During the proceeding, Assistant District Attorney William Toal III argued that the relief being sought is well outside of the statute of limitations for Evans’ case and that there are no “new facts” that would justify reopening the investigation.
However, the Law & Order: Special Victims Unit star strongly urged the district attorney to reconsider her office’s decision.
“You know that DNA has been clearing a lot of people,” Ice-T said. “I think everybody at least deserves a chance to use the new technology – 39 years ago, there wasn’t even DNA testing. I think it’s only right.”