CRIME

Jamie Peterson Cleared Of 1996 Rape By New DNA Testing

12/05/2013 09:29 am ET | Updated Jan 23, 2014

DNA tests have found a new suspect linked to the 1996 rape and murder of a Michigan woman. The surprise finding may possibly free the inmate serving life who has long claimed he's innocent of the crime, the Associated Press reports.

Jamie Peterson, a 39-year-old with mental illness, initially confessed to police that he committed the barbaric slaying of 68-year-old Gertrude Montgomery in the small town of Kalkaska. But even though he quickly recanted his confession -- and no genetic evidence placed him at the crime scene -- prosecutors plowed ahead. He was handed a sentence of life without parole, according to NBC News.

Peterson has maintained for years that he's innocent, but on Tuesday his story appeared to be proven as Michigan State Police charged another man with Montgomery's murder.

Police arrested Jason Anthony Ryan, 35, saying that his DNA in a national database matched the semen discovered in Montgomery's home, where she was beaten, sexually assaulted and stuffed into her sedan's trunk to asphyxiate.

Bond was set at $2 million for Ryan who has a probable cause hearing scheduled for Dec. 18, the Detroit Free Press reported.

Peterson made an easy target for prosecutors. When he was charged in 1998, he was already locked up for a sex crime and had a documented history of mental illness. Another inmate told authorities that Peterson had taken credit for killing Montgomery.

Police have said that Peterson had information about the rape and killing that could have only been known to someone who took part in the crime, according to UpNorthLive.com.

The Northwestern University’s Center on Wrongful Convictions and University of Michigan's Innocence Clinic have supported Peterson in court and will continue to try to win his freedom.

They plan to file documents seeking Peterson's release.

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