An attorney for Marine Cpl. Lindsey Scott said yesterday that test results are inconclusive on DNA in the semen recovered from the woman Scott is accused of raping and trying to kill at Quantico Marine Corps base in 1983.
The lawyer said he would request an eight-week continuance today in Scott's court-martial at Quantico pending more extensive DNA testing, but he acknowledged that it is unlikely that the military judge, Lt. Col. Eligah D. Clark, would grant the request.
"The defense position is so long as there is one molecule to be tested, we intend to press to have it tested," said attorney Gary R. Myers.
It is thought likely that prosecutors will oppose any motion for continuance of the three-week-old trial.
Scott's lawyers had hoped that the genetic "fingerprinting" test, by comparing the DNA from the semen with that of Scott's blood, would clear the 32-year-old marine of charges that he raped, sodomized, abducted and tried to murder the wife of a fellow marine.
But Myers said yesterday that tests performed by a Maryland firm showed that the DNA in the semen had deteriorated to such an extent that it is impossible to cull a conclusive reading from it.
The test, a new law-enforcement technology that is beginning to gain acceptance in courts across the country, involved snipping DNA molecules at precise points, then lining them up to create a DNA "fingerprint" that is distinct in every individual except identical twins.
The DNA recovered from the semen in the Scott case, however, had broken apart randomly since it was recovered after the April 20, 1983, attack, making it impossible for Cellmark Diagnostics, a British company based in Germantown, to "read" the DNA code.
Myers said, "There are tests available to examine degraded DNA" -- tests that might exclude Scott as a suspect in the case -- but he declined to say what firm might perform such a procedure.
If the judge denies the defense request for a delay in the proceedings, the case could go to the jury of seven marine officers as early as Wednesday afternoon.
Today, prosecutors are expected to put a half dozen witnesses on the stand to rebut aspects of the defense case, especially the testimony of a former Zayre store detective who says she saw Scott shopping at the exact time and date the woman says she was abducted at Quantico.