Northwestern’s Center on Wrongful Convictions helps exonerate man of 1996 murder charge

Lydia Ramsey, Managing Editor

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Almost 18 years after being wrongly convicted of murder, a Michigan man will be set free Monday thanks to DNA evidence and the persistence of wrongful conviction centers at Northwestern and the University of Michigan.

A Michigan prosecutor announced Friday that Jamie Lee Peterson will be released from custody and cleared of all charges related to the 1996 rape and murder of 68-year-old Geraldine Montgomery in Kalkaska, Michigan.

Students and attorneys working with NU School of Law’s Center on Wrongful Convictions collaborated with the University of Michigan’s Michigan Innocence Clinic to champion a DNA test that eventually exonerated Peterson, according to a University news release.

DNA evidence at the time of the 1998 trial proved Peterson did not match the DNA from the victim’s rape kit. Yet he was still convicted based on a series of false confessions he gave to police and the state’s argument that then-untestable DNA found on the victim’s shirt likely belonged to Peterson, according to the news release.

The NU and Michigan wrongful conviction clinics pushed for a new round of DNA tests that proved the DNA left on the shirt matched the DNA from the rape kit. All male DNA at the crime matched that of Jason Ryan, who was arrested in 2013 and now awaits trial.

Peterson, who has been serving a life sentence since 1998, is set to be released Monday, according to the University.

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