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Attorneys want '99 murder trial dismissed

SALT LAKE CITY — Defense attorneys for a man facing a capital murder charge argued Friday that the case should be dismissed because they say the man's constitutional rights are being violated.

Prosecutors quickly refuted the defense claims during a motion hearing before 3rd District Judge Deno Himonas. The judge will rule later.

Donald Eugene Younge, 43, is charged with aggravated murder, a first-degree felony, in the fatal stabbing of University of Utah theater student Amy Quinton in her Salt Lake apartment on Aug. 3, 1999. A female roommate and another female friend have testified a man sneaked into the apartment with a knife, stole two wallets, roughed up the roommate, stabbed the friend and killed Quinton. The two survivors identified Younge in court.

Younge currently is serving a prison term of 31 years to life for raping, robbing and beating up a different female U. student in 1996.

Utah prosecutors say DNA testing using evidence stored for years from the 1996 Utah rape helped bring Younge into the spotlight as a suspect in the Quinton killing. In 2009, he was brought to Utah from Illinois, where he was in jail under suspicion of killing three women and raping a fourth. The Illinois cases were never prosecuted because of problems with the investigation. The alleged sexual assault victim was never able to testify because she was killed by someone else.

But Michael Misner, one of Younge's attorneys, has argued that Younge couldn't be responsible for the Quinton murder because he was not in Utah from March 1999 to February 2009. An Illinois law enforcement official had said Younge told him he had been out of Utah during that time. Utah prosecutors say that statement has never been fully litigated.

"Your honor, whether Donald Younge was here on Aug. 3, 1999, is an issue for the jury," prosecutor Blake Hills said.

Misner also blasted prosecutors for not providing the full amount of discovery evidence he believes exists in the case and not doing it in a timely way. Misner said he got only four pages of DNA information the Salt Lake County District Attorney's Office, but when he went to the private lab that handled the DNA and paid a fee, he got 300 pages of information.

Evidence included DNA found on a phone allegedly used by the assailant in the Quinton apartment, as well as DNA on duct tape. The DNA does match a male — but not Younge, according to Misner.

Misner said Younge keeps asking him why prosecutors "keep breaking all the rules" in the case, while Misner abides by them. "I can't tell him why I can't break the rules," Misner told the judge.

"There's something fishy going on. I don't trust the state. They're not ready to go to trial, and we want a speedy trial," Misner said. "The fair remedy is to dismiss the case."

However, both Hills and prosecutor Vincent Meister denied that the district attorney's office was attempting to hide anything or doing anything improper.

"We have handled this case professionally," Meister said outside the courtroom. "We have proceeded as fast as we can."

e-mail: lindat@desnews.com