A joint effort between the Innocence Project (of New York) and the Pennsylvania Innocence Project has secured DNA testing for Scott Oliver. Oliver was convicted in 1991 for the 1989 murder and rape of 11-year-old Melissa Jaroschak in Easton. After initially admitting to the crime, Oliver recanted his confession. He was convicted of the rape and murder, but was sentenced to life in prison thereby avoiding the death penalty. Mr. Oliver sought the help of the Innocence Project in securing tests of DNA evidence recovered from the crime scene and the victim’s body and clothing.
The Innocence Project was able to secure an initial test of a vaginal swab, through which the DNA profile of a man was established. That man was not Scott Oliver. As a result of the test and this evidence of another perpetrator, a judge has now ordered that the other DNA evidence from the case be tested.
While his attorneys are hopeful that the new tests will provide enough evidence to have their Post Conviction Relief Act petition granted and a new trial ordered. While it would raise significant questions of his innocence, the Commonwealth argues that evidence of another perpetrator would not necessarily prove (legally, at least) that Mr. Oliver was uninvolved in the crime. The test results are expected sometime in the next three to four months.