Local News

Tuesday, Sep 25 2012 12:21 PM

Prosecutor: Convict's DNA not a match in case

By THE BAKERSFIELD CALIFORNIAN

A DNA test taken in 2008 did not connect a death row inmate to a second murder in which he has been called a possible suspect, Kern County District Attorney Lisa Green said Monday.

Christopher Lightsey is on death row for his first-degree murder conviction in the 1993 killing of a cancer patient. Police have called Lightsey a possible suspect in the killing of 4-year-old Jessica Martinez in 1990, but he has never been charged.

In May 1990, Martinez went missing one night when she had been playing about 40 feet away from her family's home. Lightsey had moved into the same apartment complex Jessica and her family were living in about a week before her disappearance. Nearly two weeks later, Jessica's body was found buried in a cotton field 10 miles south of Bakersfield, police said at the time.

Eighteen years later, in 2008, Bakersfield Police swabbed Lightsey for DNA to check for a match to male DNA found on Jessica's clothing. That came after police interviewed Lightsey in San Quentin State Prison about her death, and he knew how she died without police telling him, according to a search warrant at the time.

But Lightsey's DNA ultimately did not match the DNA found on the clothing, Green said. The results came back awhile ago, but had not been revealed.

The investigation is still open, she said. She said she could not elaborate on the case and referred further questions to the Bakersfield Police Department. Officials there with knowledge of the case could not be reached Monday night to say whether Lightsey is still a suspect.

Meanwhile, Lightsey was in Kern County Superior Court on Monday for a status conference related to whether he was competent to stand trial in the murder of cancer patient William Compton. In July, the California Supreme Court ruled that a Kern County judge violated state law by failing to appoint an attorney and allowing Lightsey to represent himself in a competency hearing held in 1994.

The case was sent back to Kern County Superior Court to determine if a retrospective competency hearing is feasible or if Lightsey will get a new trial. Monday's hearing was the first in a number of hearings on that matter, Green said.

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