Husske v. Commonwealth
In Husske v. Commonwealth, 252 Va. 203, 211-12, 476 S.E.2d 920, 925 (1996), the defendant was charged with breaking and entering with intent to commit rape, forcible sodomy, rape, and robbery.
At trial, the defendant requested the trial court to appoint an expert to help him challenge the Commonwealth's DNA evidence.
The trial court denied the defendant's request. See id. at 208, 476 S.E.2d at 923. On appeal, the Virginia Supreme Court affirmed and held that:
an indigent defendant who seeks the appointment of an expert, at the Commonwealth's expense, must show a particularized need for such services and that he will be prejudiced by the lack of expert assistance.
The defendant failed to meet these requirements.
At best, the defendant asserted, inter alia, that DNA evidence is 'of a highly technical nature;' he thought it was difficult for a lawyer to challenge DNA evidence without expert assistance; and he had concerns about the use of DNA evidence because 'the Division of Forensic Science was no longer conducting paternity testing in criminal cases.'
The defendant's generalized statements in his motions simply fail to show a particularized need. Husske, 252 Va. at 213, 476 S.E.2d at 926.
In Husske, the Court "held that an indigent defendant who seeks the appointment of an expert witness . . . must demonstrate that the subject which necessitates the assistance of the expert is 'likely to be a significant factor in his defense' and that he will be prejudiced by the lack of expert assistance." Id.
Denying Husske's request, the Court ruled:
(1) that his counsel only made "generalized" statements about his need;
(2) that he could make no showing of prejudice "because . . . he confessed to the crimes" in great detail. Id. at 213, 476 S.E.2d at 926.