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The Latest: Judge doesn’t rule on overturning convictions

March 10, 2018

HELENA, Mont. (AP) — The Latest on a hearing seeking to overturn the murder convictions of two Montana State Prison inmates (all times local):

5:25 p.m.

After a daylong hearing, District Judge Kathy Seeley said she would take under consideration the testimony she heard Friday as part of an effort to overturn the murder convictions of two Montana State Prison inmates.

Attorneys for Freddie Joe Lawrence and Paul Jenkins argue recent DNA tests and other evidence indicates another inmate is responsible for killing Donna Meagher near Helena in 1994.

Tests showed a rope found at the crime scene with Meagher’s blood on it also had DNA from David Wayne Nelson, who killed a man and his mother in Deer Lodge in 2015.

Nelson’s wife, Eileen, suggested her husband’s DNA could have gotten on the rope because there could have been a rope in a box of free items that Paul Jenkins picked up at the Nelson’s garage sale in Butte a few months before the killing.

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1 p.m.

Attorneys for two men convicted of a 1994 kidnapping and murder near Helena argued that DNA and other evidence shows the state’s prosecution theory is no longer credible.

District Judge Kathy Seeley heard arguments Friday on motions to overturn the murder convictions of Freddie Joe Lawrence and Paul Jenkins in the death of Donna Meagher.

Recent DNA tests showed a rope found at the crime scene with Meagher’s blood on it also had DNA from David Wayne Nelson, who pleaded guilty to killing a man and his mother in Deer Lodge in 2015. No DNA from Lawrence or Jenkins was found.

Nelson was sworn in, but declined to testify.

Fred Nelson testified his uncle talked about getting away with the killing and thought it was “cool” that someone else was convicted.

The hearing continues Friday afternoon.

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