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DNA Dirt Boosts Death Row Dissent

Turnabout! Death row inmate Anthony Apanovitch caught a break at the Sheppard trial last week, when county prosecutors put Linda Luke on the stand. A trace evidence expert in the coroner's office, Luke admitted that, prior to 1990, there's a good chance DNA samples stored there were contaminated, due to improper handling. Prosecutors were trying to undermine the validity of 56-year-old evidence from the Sheppard crime scene. But Luke's admission inadvertently bolstered the argument of Apanovitch lawyer Dale Baich, who insists the DNA evidence in the 1984 murder of Mary Anne Flynn is equally suspect. "The county prosecutor and coroner have adopted the same position we've taken -- the samples are questionable, and the DNA issue is irrelevant," says Baich. Not necessarily, counters prosecutor Christopher Frey, who is awaiting an explanation from the coroner's office as to "how contamination could pertain to the Apanovitch case." Meanwhile, Baich is awaiting publication of an op-ed piece on the case he submitted to The Plain Dealer. And Apanovitch sits on death row, hoping to outwait the executioner.

City Council's aborted "Vision Dinner" was the brainchild of press liaison/party planner Rodney Jenkins, who neglected to inform council lawyers that the dinner was being paid for by Cablevision. Even without the obvious conflict of interest, it was an awkward choice, given that Council has just hired brass-knuckled Walter & Haverfield to negotiate the city's new cable contract. With the media captive over dinner plates, Council had planned a slide show on the sad state of Cleveland neighborhoods, part of its running battle to keep Mayor Mike White from controlling that issue. "I take responsibility, and I made the call to cancel it," Council President Mike Polensek said after flushing the free foodfest. But what really burned him was The PD calling White for a critical comment on Council's ethics. Fumed Polensek, "That's like asking Larry Flynt to talk about celibacy."

What you didn't get to see: The best parts of a recent letter written by NAACP Prez George Forbes to The PD, excoriating columnist Dick Feagler for a column critical of Forbes's demonstration at Euclid High with activist Al Sharpton. Here's what the daily edited out, restored in italics: "Usually I ignore the writings of Feagler, whose style and content have not changed since the '60s, when he was a twerp reporter at the beck and call of the late Press editor Louis B. Seltzer. Incidentally, I knew Louis Seltzer, and Dick Feagler is not Seltzer. In fact, Feagler is not Dennis Kucinich, who is a former PD copy boy." And this closing punch line: "Feagler's wish for a kinder, gentler Cleveland harking back to the '50s has become passe. I would strongly suggest that he get a reality check if not a good stiff drink."

St. Patrick's Day toasts: To the attorney at one of the multifarious party-cum-fund-raisers who, after paying a $15 cover charge, declined to buy a pro-IRA button. "I don't mind laundering money for the IRA," he quipped. "Just don't ask me to do it twice in one night." . . . And to the weasel WKYC-TV/Channel 3 cameraman making the rounds of downtown watering holes after the parade, trying to catch uniformed firemen drinking with a laughably obvious "hidden" camera. A bit of advice: You usually fit in better at a bar if you have a drink in your hand.

Chasers and hot tips to edge@clevescene.com.

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