South Dakota inmate’s case could reopen after DNA testing
SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) — A South Dakota inmate who was sentenced to life in prison for a murder charge nearly 30 years ago says he might soon have DNA test results to help prove his innocence.
Stacy Larson, 48, was convicted of second-degree murder for the shooting death of Ronald Hilgenberg in 1990, the Argus Leader reported . Larson has maintained his innocence and there’s no physical evidence linking him to the case.
The South Dakota Supreme Court upheld his conviction, but the state’s high court identified issues with Larson’s case. Evidence of concern includes his time-stamped receipt for a beer purchase on the night of the murder. The receipt suggests that Larson would have had to drive between 95 to 350 miles per hour to make it from the convenience store to the crime scene.
Larson has been working with Innocence Project of Minnesota since 2006.
Attention returned to his case after a 2016 discovery of five boxes of evidence Larson thought had been destroyed. DNA swabbed from the boxes’ contents could rule Larson out as a suspect.
“I know it’s going to prove I didn’t do it,” Larson said.
Julie Jonas, legal director of the Innocence Project of Minnesota, said the DNA sampling may not be enough to make the case. Jonas said if DNA testing matches a new suspect, they hope is it would encourage a prosecutor to reopen the case.
Attorney General Marty Jackley’s office is handling Larson’s case. Jackley said he “didn’t oppose” the Innocence Project’s efforts to test the evidence, particularly since DNA testing has evolved since Larson’s trial.
“I’ve indicated that I’d take a look at (the results) and keep an open mind,” Jackley said.
Information from: Argus Leader, http://www.argusleader.com