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Man walks free after serving 16 years for a crime he didn't commit

U of M Michigan Innocence Clinic

After serving 16 years for a crime he didn’t commit, Jamie Lee Peterson walked away from a courtroom in Kalkaska today a free man.

Peterson was convicted of the 1996 rape and murder of Geraldine Montgomery. He was sentenced to life in prison two years later. 

Prosecutors dropped the rape and murder charges against Peterson after he was cleared by new DNA evidence. The DNA evidence did implicate another man in the murder. He’s awaiting trial. 

David Moran is the director of the Michigan Innocence Clinic. The clinic helped bring the new evidence forward. Moran says Jamie Lee Peterson may be free, but he is still dealing with some serious mental health issues.

“We have been working with a team of people who have been helping us pro-bono to find an appropriate placement for him,” says Moran. “We did find an appropriate place … where he can get the treatment he needs and gradually reintegrate back into society.”

Peterson has few options to receive compensation for his wrongful conviction. Michigan is one of 22 states that does not have a compensation law for the wrongfully convicted. 

“We’re hoping the attorney general’s office will remove their opposition to Senate Bill 98, which would allow for compensation the wrongfully convicted," says Moran.  

Moran says Peterson and his attorneys could pursue a civil lawsuit.   

Steve Carmody has been a reporter for Michigan Radio 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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