Hair Evidence Disputed in 1981 Murder

October 1, 2001

TULSA -- A hair used to convict a Wagoner County man for a 1981 murder does not match his DNA, a new report shows. Albert Wesley Brown, 39, is serving a life sentence for the murder of Earl Taylor, who was bound, gagged and drowned in Fort Gibson Lake. 

Brown's attorneys want him released from prison based on a new report that says a hair found in the gag in Taylor's mouth should not have been linked to Brown. A hearing has been set for today in the Wagoner County Courthouse. 
Former Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation agent Kenneth Ede testified at Brown's trial that hair found in the gag was consistent with Brown's hair. Ede also said four hairs found in the trunk of a car driven by Brown were consistent with the victim. Mitochondrial DNA testing of the hairs by an independent laboratory in Pennsylvania determined the hair found in the gag was not Brown's.  Lab scientists said the hair may have been Taylor's. 

The laboratory also said the hairs in the trunk did not come from Taylor. 

Ede used a statistical probability in his testimony. He said hair coloring was found on the hairs in the trunk, which increased the likelihood of a match to the victim. 

The Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals scrutinized that testimony, but ultimately ruled it as a "harmless error." 

Prosecutors said Brown killed Taylor after being interrupted during a burglary. They said Taylor was bound, gagged and placed in Brown's borrowed car and drowned in the lake. Nearly a year later, Brown was identified as a suspect through an auto-theft case. 

A second man also was charged in the murder, but the case against him was dropped. 

Brown has claimed he is innocent. He says he was in Broken Arrow and Tulsa at the time of the crimes, and friends and family testified to his alibi. 

The state bureau agent testified that soil found on the tire of Brown's car originated within half a mile of where the victim was discovered. 

The soil testimony has been disputed by another expert, Raymond C. Murray, who determined that "such testimony is on its face false and useless and should never have been presented to the jury." A report by Murray says the testimony demonstrates Ede's "total lack of knowledge of geologic science and soil science." 

State bureau agent Claude Berry testified that fiber from a windowsill of the victim's home was consistent with a shirt found in Brown's vehicle. The fibers have not been located for testing. 

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