The trial and jury conviction of Gary Leiterman is every persons worst nightmare. Gary Leiterman woke up one morning in 2004 to find he was being charged with first degree murder for a homicide that occurred in 1969. The homicide of a woman he never knew nor had any known contact with. How could he explain where he was on a certain date 35 years before; what he was doing, and how his DNA ended up on pantyhose of the victim?
Knowing that he did not commit this haneous crime, Gary Leiterman trusted that the legal system would serve and find him innocent. The legal system failed him. Our legal system FAILED Gary Leiterman.
In 2001, Gary Leiterman became addicted to a prescription drug called Vicodin. Vicodin is a pain killer that was initially prescribed for his severe back pain and bout of kidney stones. This unfortunate drug addiction led to a prescription fraud charge against Gary.
In Dec. 2001, Gary successfully completed a 3 month drug rehabilitation program in a private clinic. He also completed the required one year court sponsored drug rehabilitation program which ultimately cleared him of the felony conviction arising from his drug addiction charges.
At that point, he was told to submit a buccal (saliva) swab sample to the police as part of a new Michigan law requiring those with felony convictions to submit buccal swabs for DNA testing.
Please note that technically, Gary did not have a felony conviction at that juncture. He had completed the required court program intended to clear first time offenders of felony convictions. But because Gary did not have any thing to hide, he willingly submitted the buccal swab.
The buccal swab was submitted to the Portage Police Department and was received by the Michigan State Police on Feb. 22, 2002. During this same period of time, evidence from the Jane Mixer cold case murder and the John Reules murder case were being tested in the Michigan State Police Laboratory. This began a nightmarish journey for Gary and his family.
The lab reported a match of Gary's DNA on the pantyhose of Jane Mixer; pantyhose that were recorded as evidence, as she was reported to have been wearing when her body was found murdered in Ann Arbor, Michigan in 1969. A drop of blood found on Jane Mixer's hand and also stored as evidence in 1969, was matched to John Ruelas. John Ruelas is (and was at the time of the DNA match in 2002) serving a sentence for killing his mother. In 1969, John Ruelas was 4 years old.
Gary's DNA, Jane Mixer's evidence from her murder, and John Ruelas DNA were all in the Michigan State Police lab at the same time. The Michigan State Police decided to arrest Gary Leiterman for the murder of Jane Mixer, regardless of the open questions of contamination in the lab.
Upon Gary’s shocking arrest, the Leiterman Family placed their trust in a local lawyer. The Leiterman Family contends that "Gary's trial attorney was so ineffective that he failed to obtain the appropriate discovery for a diligent review and defense of this case." The family believes that the trial attorney's very weak defense ultimately led to Gary’s wrongful conviction and life imprisonment, without the possibility of parole.
Late on a Friday afternoon, the judge sent the jury to deliberate. In just three hours, they decided Gary Leiterman was guilty of murdering a woman 35 years prior.
Justice was not served; not for Gary Leiterman; not for the victim, Jane Mixer, and her family.
Since Gary's conviction, the Leiterman Family a DNA expert Dr. Theodore Kessis. Dr. Kessis have uncovered significant flaws in the DNA evidence processing and testing in a shared space, at the same point in time at the Michigan State Police Laboratory. It has been known that the evidence from Jane Mixer’s murder, the evidence from the boy who killed his mother (John Ruelas) and Gary Leiterman's buccal swab sample were in the same laboratory at the same point in time.
To date, no DNA from Jane Mixer is recoverable on her pantyhose, yet Gary Leiterman's DNA was found clear as day. Combine this with John Ruelas' blood sample found, and many question the validity of the testing in the DNA lab. DNA is strongly believed to be "foolproof". However, DNA testing leaves much opportunity for human error.
How can anyone ever ignore the obvious contamination?
View Trial Transcripts here and View Appeal Documents here
View Court TV Articles here