Monday, November 29, 2004
Tests not taken: One of the biggest news stories in San Diego County when I was in high school was the murder of 20-year-old Cara Knott whose body was found off the I-15 Mercy Road offramp. Cara's uncle taught German at Helix High School, where I went to school, was a member of my church and knew my parents.
The case got a lot of press not only because a young, attractive girl was brutally murdered, but because a CHP officer, Craig Peyer, was charged in the case. Witness after witness -- women all -- described how Peyer would often pull women over and order them down that offramp, that at the time led nowhere.
Peyer was convicted of second-degree murder and has steadfastly declared his innocence. Well, any doubt about his guilt can now be dismissed. Peyer was offered a DNA test which could prove his innocence -- and turned it down.
But when prosecutors went to him in prison last year with an offer to conduct DNA testing on key evidence that could exonerate him, Peyer said, "No thanks."
His refusal to participate in the district attorney's DNA project didn't play well with the parole board several months later. Peyer's parole request was denied after board members considered the inconsistency between his protestations of innocence and his unwillingness to let authorities try to prove it.
Peyer's case was unusual, though. The program that helped keep him in prison was intended to free those who have been wrongly convicted.
At his parole hearing in March, Peyer's denial was brought up by prosecutor Joan Stein, who said Peyer should continue to be held behind bars. She asked him why he wouldn't agree to the tests if he didn't commit the crime.
Peyer didn't respond. Stein said his silence spoke volumes.
This should ensure that Peyer never gets out of prison and that justice was done in the case.