KCBD Investigates: Hailey Dunn investigator calls Shawn Adkins release ‘miscarriage of justice’

Published: Jun. 29, 2023 at 10:56 PM CDT
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LUBBOCK, Texas (KCBD) - Questions over the validity of forensic evidence have stalled a West Texas murder case.

Clint Dunn’s 13-year-old daughter Hailey went missing from her Colorado City home in 2010. Her body was found three years later near Lake J.B. Thomas.

After years of no arrests, Dunn began working with Erica Morse, a private investigator.

Shawn Adkins was indicted for Hailey’s murder in 2021.

Adkins was Hailey’s mother’s live-in boyfriend at the time of her disappearance and was the last one to see Hailey alive.

Morse said prosecutors have been working with Dunn to prepare him for Adkins’ trial, but they called him on Monday, June 26 with a new development in the case.

Morse said the prosecutors told them they were going to dismiss the charges against Adkins because they didn’t have enough evidence to proceed with a jury trial.

“Why in the world has this happened? Why is Shawn out?” Morse asked. “What are we going to do moving forward to close this case?”

KCBD obtained court documents that revealed prosecutors were struggling with a critical piece of evidence.

The prosecutors said a soil analysis conducted by a soil expert for the State of Texas used a method known as Near Infrared Spectroscopy, or “NIRS.”

That NIRS test analyzed and compared the soil found on Adkins’ work boots to the soil found near Hailey’s remains in Scurry County.

The State’s expert found a match, but the same soil samples were also sent to the FBI Crime Lab in Quantico, Virginia, according to court records.

The FBI forensic scientists determined the soil sample from Adkins’ boots did not match the soil samples collected near Dunn’s remains.

Prosecutors said they learned NIRS is not a testing methodology sanctioned by the forensic science community for soil analysis.

“The FBI stands by their original testing and does not believe that the testing done by the soil expert should be relied on in a criminal trial,” prosecutors said.

Morse said right now, Dunn’s main objective to is to find out why the State’s test is not accepted by the scientific community.

Morse hopes once more forensic evidence is tested, there will be enough to move forward with a trial, but she said this latest update was a major disappointment.

“His (Clint’s) exact words were, ‘Don’t ask me what my emotions are at this point because I don’t have time to feel them,” Morse said.

“All Clint wanted was the opportunity for a jury of West Texans to decide his guilt and two months before he was supposed to face...the man accused of this crime, it was stolen from him again,” Morse said.

Adkins’ charges were dismissed without prejudice, meaning prosecutors can re-file the charges.

“We are taking this very seriously and our only objective at this point is to put Shawn Adkins back behind bars and try him and anyone else responsible for this unreal miscarriage of justice,” Morse said.

In the court documents, the prosecutors said evidence collected after Hailey’s disappearance was never forensically tested.

“Before this case proceeds to trial, that evidence should be thoroughly tested to determine if it has any probative value,” prosecutors said.

Morse said this latest development is a massive blow to the justice system.

“An accused child killer is free, and he is free with no restrictions,” Morse said.