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Rodney Lincoln hopes DNA proves innocence in Joann Tate's murder

9:29 PM, Sep 12, 2013   |    comments
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By Elizabeth Matthews and the Associated Press

ST. LOUIS (AP) - A 68-year-old St. Louis man serving a life sentence for the 1982 killing of a young mother and assaults on her two daughters returns to court Thursday in an effort to overturn his convictions.

Rodney Lee Lincoln's case was one of six chosen by St. Louis Circuit Attorney Jennifer Joyce in 2003 for further scrutiny and DNA testing.

Lincoln's lawyers from the Midwest Innocence Project say the subsequent genetic tests showing no male DNA on the murder weapons exonerate him in the death of JoAnn Tate.

But the prosecutor says Lincoln's convictions on charges of manslaughter and first-degree assault are valid. Joyce also points to eyewitness identifications by the Tate's daughters, who were then 7 and 4 years old.

"It's something that I have personally been fighting for for 10 years," Kay Lincoln, Rodney Lincoln's daughter, said.

We talked to her nine years ago when she found out the case was being reopened, but at the time taking longer than expected.

It's now been a decade and they are back in court where she says her father can now be found innocent.

"The importance of what they discussed today is that is the DNA testing that was done in 2010 confirmed that that hair was indeed not my father's hair," she said.

The DNA testing proved that the hair did not belong to Lincoln or any of the three victims.

Prosecuting attorneys say the hair that was tested did not play a central role in the trial that convicted Lincoln 30 years ago and does not prove his innocence.

Circuit attorney Jennifer Joyce says in a statement:

"We believe a thorough review of the trial transcript as a whole indicates that Mr. Lincoln was appropriately held accountable for the murder of JoAnn Tate and the assault on her two daughters at their St. Louis apartment on April 27, 1982."

Joyce also points to eyewitness identifications by the Tate's daughters, who were then 7 and 4 years old.

Lincoln says prosecutors are grasping at straws.

"I think that some of it may be driven by their compassion for the victim which is admirable and I completely agree that victims deserve compassion, however there are more than one set of victims to this crime," Lincoln said.

Now the judge will make the decision which could take weeks or even months.

(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

Associated Press and KSDK

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