In the News

Killer asks for DNA testing in his case

By Phil Ray (pray@altoonamirror.com) , The Altoona Mirror
May 12, 2012

HOLLIDAYSBURG – William D. Thompson, who is serving consecutive life terms for killing an elderly Altoona couple during a robbery, wants DNA tests performed on two hunting knives found at the scene of the murders.

Thompson, 30, is incarcerated at the State Correctional Institution at Coal Township, Schuykill County.

He filed a post-conviction petition last fall to challenge the effectiveness of his attorneys during the 2007 trial where he was convicted of murdering Raymond Bracken, 83, and Marjorie Bracken, 81, in their Spruce Avenue home.

The murders occurred March 9, 2002. Thompson was convicted five years ago this week.

Thompson is asking a Blair County judge to order the DNA tests prior to a hearing on his post-trial issues, according to the petition filed by his court-appointed attorney, Timothy S. Burns.

Thompson has long maintained that there were others at the scene of the murders.

In September 2004, just prior to the start of his first trial, he gave a statement to police naming others who killed the Brackens. The content of that statement was sealed by Blair County Judge Hiram A. Carpenter because it stemmed from plea discussions but after the trial, the seal was lifted.

Blair County District Attorney Richard A. Consiglio exonerated the suspects named by Thompson.

Thompson admitted being in the Bracken home that night but was there only to use the telephone, Consiglio said.

While he was on the telephone, two men, who contended Thompson owed them money from drug sales, entered and killed the elderly couple, Thompson claims. Several items were taken from the home including a gold ring with a green stone that Mr. Bracken often wore. That ring was later found in the home of Thompson’s girlfriend.

The prosecution throughout the trial contended Thompson was the only person involved in the robbery and that only one knife, traced to the girlfriend’s home, was used in the killings.

Thompson’s request also leaves the door open for tests on several other knives found during the investigation. Thompson will willingly give police a sample of his own DNA and permission to use it if officers decide to further investigate the Bracken murders, according to the request.

The law requires DNA tests be addressed by the court first before other post-trial issues are reviewed, Burns said.

The prosecution in the 2007 trial asked the jury to find Thompson guilty of first degree murder and sought the death penalty but it returned with second-degree murder convictions.

Mirror Staff Writer Phil Ray is at 946-7468.

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