MISSOULA – A judge could decide later this week whether two men who’ve been behind bars in connection with a 1994 murder.
Helena District Court Judge Kathy Seeley will decide if new DNA evidence is conclusive enough to release Paul Jenkins and Fred Lawrence from prison and vacate their convictions.
Lawyers for the two men say the DNA tests on ligature marks and a rope from the crime scene exonerate them with statistically certainty. They will present their motions and argue the evidence to Judge Seeley on Friday in Helena.
Deputies arrested Jenkins and Lawrence months after the 1994 murder of Donna Meagher. A jury convicted the men and each received two life sentences.
When the Montana Innocence Project agreed to reexamine the case, it asked the Montana Department of Justice permission to conduct DNA testing on crime scene evidence.
Those results came back this fall and eliminated Jenkins and Lawrence but did reveal that convicted killer David Nelson's DNA was found at the crime scene.
The case against him is still under investigation and no charges have been filed.