- Associated Press - Friday, June 2, 2017

ST. LOUIS (AP) - The Missouri Supreme Court will not review the conviction of Rodney Lincoln, who is serving life in prison in the death of a St. Louis woman 35 years ago, a crime he claims he didn’t commit.

A circuit judge last year turned aside Lincoln’s request to have his conviction overturned in the 1982 sexual attack and killing of JoAnn Tate. Lincoln’s attorneys from the Midwest Innocence Project said Friday that with the state Supreme Court’s ruling, Lincoln’s only hope for getting out of prison is parole or a pardon from Gov. Eric Greitens.

“We are disappointed, but we will not stop fighting for Mr. Lincoln’s freedom,” Tricia Bushnell, director of the Midwest Innocence Project, said in a statement. “No credible evidence connects Mr. Lincoln to this crime and justice for Mr. Lincoln and the victims’ family requires that he be released.”

Lincoln was also convicted of assaulting Tate’s two young daughters. His first trial ended in a hung jury. He was convicted in a second trial and sentenced to life in prison.

The conviction came after testimony from one of Tate’s daughters, who was 7 at the time. Prosecutors also said that hair found at the crime scene matched Lincoln‘s.

But the Innocence Project said DNA testing later proved the hair was not Lincoln‘s. Meanwhile, Tate’s daughter, Melissa Neal DeBoer, now says she was coerced into identifying the wrong man.

“I made a mistake, and I am heartbroken,” DeBoer wrote last year in an application for pardon or executive commutation to then-Gov. Jay Nixon. “I have incredible guilt for my role.”

DeBoer, whose sister died in 2008, said an investigator coaxed her into identifying Lincoln as the killer by showing her a photograph of Lincoln and another of a DeBoer relative and saying the “bad man” who committed the attack was one of them.

She began to question whether Lincoln was the real killer in 2015, when the syndicated television show “Crime Watch Daily” raised the possibility that serial killer Tommy Sells, who once lived in St. Louis, could have killed Tate.

Sells, who was executed in 2014 for fatally stabbing a 13-year-old Texas girl in 1999, had claimed to have committed as many as 70 killings across the U.S.

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