Michigan Man Freed After DNA Proves Innocence
In 1998, Jamie Peterson of Michigan was convicted of rape and murder despite a lack of physical evidence connecting him to the crimes. But three weeks ago, a Kalkaska County Circuit judge vacated Peterson’s conviction and granted him a new trial based on new DNA testing, and yesterday, Peterson was released from jail. The order came after Peterson’s team of attorneys from the
Michigan Innocence Clinic at the University of Michigan Law School
Center on Wrongful Convictions at the Northwestern University School of Law
argued that DNA testing of evidence implicates another man.
Peterson, who is mentally impaired, was convicted and sentenced to life in prison for the rape and murder of Geraldine Montgomery after he falsely confessed more than 15 years ago. Research shows that people with mental disabilities have often falsely confessed because they are tempted to accommodate and agree with authority figures. When DNA testing excluded Peterson and matched another suspect, Jason Ryan, an investigation was launched to determine if the men knew each other and acted together.
Detroit Free Press
reported that Peterson has since been cleared of any suspicion and that Ryan, who was arrested last year for Montgomery’s murder, is currently awaiting trial.
Peterson was joined in court yesterday by his current legal team, his trial attorney and his father. One of his lawyers, Caitlin Plummer, took him to Wendy’s for a cheeseburger, some fries and a milkshake upon his release.
“So, he enjoyed that,” said Plummer, of the University of Michigan’s Innocence Clinic, according to the
. “He’s just real happy, big smile on his face. Everything is still pretty new, but he’s taking it all in and enjoying his freedom so far.”
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