Man sentenced to life in Ragtime waitress's murder hopes for new trial

Robert Denney's lawyers claim DNA expert lied on stand

ATLANTIC BEACH, Fla. – The man sentenced to life in prison for the murder of an Atlantic Beach waitress will return to court Thursday as his lawyers push for a new trial.

Robert Denney was convicted of stabbing Corey Parker, a waitress at Ragtime Tavern, more than 80 times in her Jacksonville Beach apartment in 1998. Denney's blood and hair was found in Parker's apartment, though he denies ever being there. He was convicted after just 45 minutes of deliberations.

Now, Denney's lawyers claim the state's DNA expert lied on the stand when he said he performed all the DNA analysis. Attorneys said it was mostly done by another analyst, and mistakes were made including one hair root producing five different DNA profiles.

Denney's lawyers also contend some evidence was mishandled or tampered with. They claim a packet sent to one lab had seven hairs, but when it went to another lab there were 14 hairs.

Defense attorneys also said FBI and Florida Department of Law Enforcement examiners did not follow their own lab procedures. They say had that been proven during the trial, Denney would not have been convicted.