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More DNA tests in 1979 slaying case requested

LOUISVILLE — A judge is weighing whether to order more specific testing on evidence in a 1979 murder case that defense attorneys say could definitively implicate or clear their client.

Jefferson Circuit Judge James Shake told attorneys Monday he would have a ruling in the case of Death Row inmate Brian Keith Moore soon.

Moore was convicted of killing Virgil Harris in August 1979. Preliminary tests on a shirt, jacket and a check showed DNA from multiple people and could not definitively include or exclude Moore.

Moore's attorney, David Harshaw, asked for a more specific kind of test that could tell whether the genetic material came from Moore.

"Mr. Moore has told us he didn't do this," Harshaw said.

Assistant Attorney General David Barr told the judge Moore isn't entitled to any more testing because only one test is required under a law that allows condemned inmates to seek testing on evidence that predates DNA technology.

"He got what he asked for. He got what he was entitled to," Barr said. "The results didn't show what they thought it would."

Moore was the first Kentucky Death Row inmate to request DNA testing under the law.

In granting the first DNA tests, Shake said there was a "reasonable probability" that Moore wouldn't have been tried or convicted if DNA tests had been available at the time and had shown he didn't wear the clothes.

Moore was convicted of killing Harris, but claims another man set him up.

The case has taken several turns since Shake ordered DNA tests on the pants, shoes and three other items. Prosecutors initially said a pair of shoes and pants were among the items available for testing. But when the evidence was sent to Kentucky's crime lab, the shoes and pants weren't among the items.