UPDATE 9/28/2015: Loevy & Loevy
Jason Ryan was arrested Tuesday, 17 years after the rape and murder of Geraldine Montgomery. Jamie Lee Peterson is currently serving a life sentence because he was convicted of raping and killing Montgomery a year after the murder.
The Michigan Innocence Clinic has been re-investigating the case of Jamie Lee Peterson. Peterson was convicted in 1997 of the murder and rape of Geraldine Montgomery. Her body was found in the trunk of her car in her garage in Kalkaska, Michigan. Peterson quickly became the prime suspect after a jailhouse informant told investigators that he confessed to him. After a series of intense interrogations, Peterson confessed. He recanted a few days later, but police insisted his confession was the truth. He was sentenced to life in prison without the chance for parole. What the truth is now is in question.
Jason Anthony Ryan was charged with the murder of Geraldine Montgomery on Tuesday. Initially, DNA tests from the victim’s shirt were inconclusive and DNA tests from a rape kit excluded Peterson. Prosecutors argued that the inconclusive results didn’t show that Peterson was innocent, as the defense said at trial, but that there was more than one perpetrator and Peterson didn’t leave any DNA. Police and prosecutors still purport the theory of multiple perpetrators.
The New DNA results from both the shirt and the rape kit match Ryan. According to A.J. Dixon, the University of Michigan law student who has led the Michigan Innocence Clinic’s work on the Peterson case:
“There is absolutely no reliable evidence that there are multiple perpetrators involved. And there is zero evidence that Peterson and Ryan had ever even met each other before the crime, let alone that they were friends or co-conspirators. It takes an incredible amount of mental gymnastics to conclude anything but the arrest of Ryan proves Peterson is innocent.”
Police interviewed Ryan during the investigation in the 90s. He was living about two blocks from the victim. Police took saliva samples from Ryan, but never compared them to the evidence. He was ruled out.
Peterson has served 16 years and is still in prison. The Michigan Innocence Clinic in conjunction with Northwestern University’s Center on Wrongful Convictions will file a new trial motion based upon the new evidence.
“I would certainly say that the true perpetrator being arrested is enormous and enormously important,” Dixon told the Michigan Daily, “We’re not going to be satisfied until Jamie Lee Peterson has been released.”