Decades after a defendant in a local murder case was first found guilty, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court will review the case to answer questions about DNA testing.

The accused was first convicted of murder in 1993, almost 30 years later he is claiming newer DNA technology could overturn his life sentence.

In 1993 the defendant Willie Hardy was convicted of first-degree murder in the strangulation death of his ex-girlfriend Deborah Will.

After Hardy failed to get his conviction overturned years later, he appealed again in 2020. Hardy is arguing for post-conviction DNA testing of evidence. A retired local FBI agent said usually appeals are not successful, and it’s usually because a case is solid to begin with.

“We’re at a very high burden of beyond reasonable doubt at trial which it should be people are presumed innocent. But, if you meet that verdict, and you prove beyond a reasonable doubt this person is guilty by all the evidence, the totality of the evidence. Then I think they’re very hard to overturn and appeal,” said retired FBI Agent Jerry Clark.

In 2021 the superior court agreed with an Erie County judge ruling which found that Hardy failed to meet the standards under a 2002 state law.

The Superior Court stated Hardy filed the request for DNA testing too late. A local attorney explained the significance of appeals like this, and what goes into denying or affirming an appeal.

“One of the most important reasons for denying the appeal is that there’s no reasonable likelihood outcome of testing is going to change the conviction. That is the key we look at, assuming that the testing is better and assuming the results are going to be favorable to the defendant, will it make a difference? And if it doesn’t, then there is no reason to proceed with the testing,” said attorney Eric Purchase.