- Associated Press - Friday, December 2, 2016

POPLAR BLUFF, Mo. (AP) - A Missouri man who spent eight years behind bars for murder has been acquitted in a retrial.

Michael Amick, now 40, was initially convicted of second-degree murder and second-degree arson in the 2008 death of his wife’s grandmother in southeast Missouri. The Missouri Supreme Court ordered a retrial last year.

The jury at his new trial acquitted Amick on Thursday, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported (https://bit.ly/2gR69Na ).

The conviction was overturned when the Supreme Court ruled that the trial judge broke state law when he called back an alternate juror who had already been discharged to take over for a juror who developed health problems after five hours of deliberations.

Leona Maxine Vaughan, 67, was shot and burned in Oregon County, near the Arkansas border. Amick was convicted in 2011 of killing her and sentenced to 30 years in prison.

“I am happy to be out,” Amick told the newspaper by phone Friday. “No matter what, I am going to be sure that some things in the system change so this can’t happen again.”

His attorney, Adam Woody, said there was no physical or scientific evidence that tied Amick to the home where the crime took place.

“Essentially, he was falsely convicted in 2011 of a murder and arson he didn’t do,” Woody said.

Amick’s wife, Sara, said she lacked the words to describe her feelings.

“It’s about time. We’ve known all along and it just had to be proven that he was innocent. It was the state’s job to provide evidence and they didn’t have evidence,” the schoolteacher said.

Oregon County Sheriff-elect Eric King, who was chief deputy at the time of the crime, testified on behalf of the prosecution. He declined to comment.

___

Information from: St. Louis Post-Dispatch, https://www.stltoday.com

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