Former Wellesley allergist Dirk K. Greineder has lost his latest attempt to overturn the life sentence he is serving for murdering his wife, Mabel, in a Wellesley park in 1999.
In a 42-page ruling Thursday, the Supreme Judicial Court rejected Greineder’s argument that his Norfolk Superior Court trial was constitutionally flawed because a DNA expert summarized results of forensic tests performed by another person.
Writing for the unanimous court, Justice Francis X. Spina said that the 2001 trial of Greineder must be examined based on a series of recent rulings by the US Supreme Court calling into question whether a defendant’s Sixth Amendment right to confront a witness is violated if a witness summarizes another person’s work.
Greineder’s attorneys argued that a DNA expert from Cellmark, Dr. Robin Cotton, should not have been allowed to tell the jury her interpretation of the results of six tests conducted on forensic evidence in the case. The person who actually did the lab work should have been called by the prosecution, too, the former allergist’s lawyers argued.
But the SJC said Cotton was questioned extensively about the DNA testing by Greineder’s trial lawyer, who was trying to show that the forensic evidence was unreliable.
“Not only did the defendant have a meaningful opportunity to cross-examine Dr. Cotton on the reliability of the data that formed the basis of her expert opinion, his experienced trial counsel used the opportunity effectively,’’ Spina wrote. ”The confrontation clause’s purpose — to ensure fair criminal trials based on reliable evidence — was served.’’
The ruling left intact Greineder’s sentence of life imprisonment without the possibility of parole. The SJC also rejected an appeal by Greineder in 2010.
The murder of Mabel Greineder in Wellesley’s Morse Park and the arrest and conviction of her husband made headlines, particularly after revelations that he frequented prostitutes and pornographic sites. His trial drew widespread news coverage and spawned the book, “A Murder in Wellesley.’’