KY Supreme Court upholds DNA ruling in 1985 murder case

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Benny Lee Hodge

Frankfort, Ky. (WTVQ) – The Kentucky Supreme Court has ruled that a lower court was not wrong when it denied a motion by a convicted killer to conduct DNA testing on hairs found at the home of his murder victims.

The case involves Benny Lee Hodge, who was convicted and sentenced to death for the 1985 murders of Bessie and Edwin Morris in Jackson County.

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Hodge, along with two other men, Roger Epperson and Donald Bartley, went to the Morris’ home to rob them. Hodge and Epperson tied up the couple and shot them to death during the robbery.

Hodge filed a motion with the Laurel Circuit Court to have DNA testing conducted on seven hairs found in the Morris’ home. According to court documents, Hodge wanted the hairs tested to see if they belonged to Bartley.

Bartley testified against Hodge in his trial. In its briefing, the Kentucky Supreme Court said Hodge was trying to cast doubt on Bartley’s testimony by showing he lied about being outside the home, acting as a lookout, when the murders took place.

The Laurel County Circuit Court ruled there was extensive evidence, separate from Bartley’s testimony, proving Hodge shot and killed Bessie and Edwin Morris and that testing the hairs would have no bearing on his conviction.

On Thursday, the Kentucky Supreme Court upheld that decision.

Hodge was also sentenced to death for another murder in 1985 in Letcher County.