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Men previously convicted of 1994 MT murder to be released from prison

Posted at 1:05 PM, Apr 17, 2018
and last updated 2018-04-17 15:05:58-04

HELENA- Two men previously convicted of a 1994 murder and robbery have been ordered released from prison.

The order freeing Paul Jenkins and Freddie Lawrence comes just days after a Lewis and Clark Co. District Judge overturned their convictions and ordered a new trial.

In her ruling, Judge Kathy Seeley ruled new DNA evidence casts significant doubt on whether, given the DNA evidence, a jury might convict Jenkins and Lawrence of the murder of Donna Meagher and the robbery of the Jackson Creek Saloon.

New evidence was presented during a March hearing showed that there was no DNA at the scene matching either Jenkins or Lawrence.

However, DNA did match that of David Nelson. Nelson is a known criminal with a history of violent kidnappings and robberies and is currently serving time for a double homicide in Deer Lodge.

According to the Tuesday court orders, both Jenkins and Lawrence are to be released on their own recognizance.

Freddie Lawrence is to be released from the Montana State Prison immediately to the custody of the Montana Innocence Project. He is to live in Missoula in housing arranged by the Montana Innocence Project.

Lawrence will have to wear an electronic monitor and remain in daily contact with his legal counsel.

The state must give 24 hours notice before it releases Paul Jenkins from the Lewistown Infirmary to for the arrangement of the transportation of his wheelchair and prosthetics.

Jenkins is to remain in Montana and live with his daughter.

Both men have also been ordered to avoid alcohol and drugs, have no contact with any victims or witnesses in the case and make all future court appearances.

RELATED: Judge vacates convictions in 1994 Montana murder case

RELATED: MT Innocence Project reacts to decision in 1994 murder convictions