SALEM, Ore. — Oregon State Police failed to reveal DNA evidence that could have exonerated a man who has spent nine years in prison for the killing of his girlfriend, a judge ruled in overturning the conviction.
Nicholas McGuffin has consistently maintained his innocence in the death of Leah Freeman, who was 15 when she disappeared from her hometown of Coquille, Ore., in 2000. Her body was found in the woods five weeks later.
McGuffin was convicted by a 10-2 jury verdict of manslaughter in 2011, even though there were no witnesses and no evidence tying McGuffin to the crime.
“Mr. McGuffin’s case proves the importance of understanding forensic evidence and the need to get it right,” said Janis Puracal, lead attorney in McGuffin’s post-conviction team. She said McGuffin has spent nine years in prison for a crime he didn’t commit.
Kathy Wilcox of the Oregon State Police Crime Lab had testified in 2011 that the only DNA evidence found on Freeman’s blood-spattered Nike sneakers belonged to the victim and to a sheriff’s deputy who had handled the evidence.