- Associated Press - Thursday, December 17, 2015

NEWPORT, Ky. (AP) - A 63-year-old man convicted of a 1987 murder is hoping to have the charge dismissed so that he can be released from prison or granted a new trial based on new DNA evidence.

William “Ricky” Virgil is scheduled for a motion hearing Friday, The Kentucky Enquirer reported (http://cin.ci/1YljJFH). The Kentucky Innocence Project, which investigates innocence claims and fights for exoneration with new evidence, plans to argue on his behalf.

“Mr. Virgil should be released and further investigation conducted into the murder,” said Linda A. Smith, director of the Kentucky Department of Public Advocacy program.

Campbell County Commonwealth’s Attorney Michelle Snodgrass declined to comment on the case to the newspaper on Wednesday.

In April 1987, Virgil was arrested and charged in the killing of 54-year-old Retha Welch. Authorities said she was raped, stabbed repeatedly and bludgeoned with a vase. Her body was found in her Newport home after she didn’t show up for work.

Virgil refused to plead guilty to the killing, Smith said in court records, because he wanted his day in court to prove his innocence.

Virgil, who was sentenced to 70 years in prison, maintains his innocence. He has had three parole hearings since his 1988 conviction.

In the motion, Smith stated that “DNA testing of recently discovered hairs in the case prove Virgil didn’t have sex with or rape the victim at the time of her murder, nor was his hair on her person or clothing.”

According to the Kentucky Department of Corrections, Virgil’s next eligible parole date is Sept. 1.

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Information from: The Kentucky Enquirer, http://www.nky.com

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