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Attorneys hope for new trial for Michigan man convicted of 1996 murder

Michigan Department of Corrections
Jamie Lee Peterson's attorneys say there are serious doubts about his guilt in a 1996 rape and murder in Kalkaska.

Attorneys today will ask for a new trial for a man convicted of a 1996 rape and murder in Kalkaska.

They say new evidence raises serious doubts about the man’s guilt.

Jamie Lee Peterson is serving a life sentence for the 1996 murder of Geraldine Montgomery. He did confess to the crime, but he later recanted.

Last year, authorities arrested another man after DNA evidence connected him to the crime.

Caitlin Plummer is with the Michigan Innocence Clinic. She says the limits of DNA testing at the time were used by prosecutors to sway jurors against Peterson.  

“The jury heard an argument from the prosecutor that this untested DNA could belong to Jamie Lee Peterson. So that’s the basis that they were deciding the case,” says Plummer. “But now we know that that DNA doesn’t belong to him, either, and that it all belongs to someone else.”

Kalkaska County Prosecutor Mike Perreault declined to comment on the motion for a new trial.

But Plummer says Perreault has been helpful.

“We’re extremely grateful to the prosecutor for agreeing to the DNA testing, which is what got this whole process started,” says Plummer. “There had been previous attempts to test the DNA with the prior prosecutor and those were rebuffed by that office.”

Peterson’s mother says she’s glad to see the push for a new trial

Becky Peterson is in poor health and says she's been waiting a long time for this.

"I knew it was going to move slow, but I hoped it would move a little faster."

Patty Cox says she still believes Peterson is guilty of murdering her mother.

"This has nothing to do with Peterson. Peterson was tried and convicted on evidence that was available."

Cox believes there were two people involved, as police have said.

Interlochen Public Radio contributed to this report.

Steve Carmody has been a reporter for Michigan Public since 2005. Steve previously worked at public radio and television stations in Florida, Oklahoma and Kentucky, and also has extensive experience in commercial broadcasting.
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