A suspected serial killer linked by DNA to the rape and murder of an Arlington woman lost another battle in a Tarrant County courtroom Wednesday in his quest for exoneration.
At issue were the results of post-conviction DNA tests that Roger Fain had requested be done on additional evidence in the 1987 stabbing and strangulation death of Linda Donahew, for which he was convicted of capital murder and sentenced to life in prison in 2007.
Assistant District Attorney Steven Conder had argued that since testing by the the Texas Department of Public Safety crime lab found no results either including nor excluding Fain as a contributor on the additional evidence, the results did not create a reasonable probability that Fain would not have been convicted had they been available at trial.
He also argued that other evidence in the trial pointed to Fain as the killer, including earlier DNA testing, which could not exclude him as the source of DNA recovered from Donahew’s body.
Fain’s defense attorney, Barry Alford, called a single witness, a DPS forensic scientist who had done the DNA testing on the additional evidence. He questioned why DNA profiles could not be obtained from the additional evidence, including a strand of hair with its root still attached.
“Hairs don’t always produce results, even if they have roots,” Clare Moyers testifed.
Moyers testified that a couple of the samples to be tested were missing but that other testing resulted in insufficient data for interpretation and comparison. Only a partial DNA profile obtained from Donahew’s fingernail cuttings was obtained, she testified, and it matched the victim.
Alford argued the inconclusive results indicate that there could be additional perpetrators.
Tarrant Couty Magistrate Charles Reynolds ruled in favor of the state.
Fain, now 65 with a mostly gray head of hair and beard, will appeal the ruling, Alford said after the hearing.
Donahew’s nude, blood-covered body was discovered in a bedroom closet inside her Arlington home by her sister on the evening of June 1, 1987. An autopsy determined she had been strangled and stabbed in the neck.
Fain was linked to her death after Arlington police began investigating the case again in 2005 and had DNA evidence from the case entered into the Combined DNA Index System, a database that compares it against known offenders. The system linked Fain to biological fluids that had been found on the victim’s body.
At the time the link was made, Fain was already in prison, serving a life sentence for the murder of an Austin woman, Sandra Dumont.
He is also a suspect in the death of Darlene Anderson, 38, of Round Rock, whose remains were found near Dumont’s in a Round Rock field about a mile from where Fain had lived.