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    Missouri woman found innocent of murder after 43 years in prison

    By Mike Heuer,

    29 days ago

    June 15 (UPI) -- After serving 43 years in a Missouri prison for a murder she didn't commit, a judge on Friday ruled Sandra Hemme is innocent and must be freed.

    Livingston County (Mo.) Circuit Judge Ryan Horsman ruled Hemme's legal team provided evidence affirming her innocence and she must be released from prison within 30 days if prosecutors don't seek a retrial.

    "We are grateful to the court for acknowledging the grave injustice Ms. Hemme has endured for more than four decades," her legal team said in a statement after the ruling.

    The Innocence Project and attorney Sean O'Brien challenged Hemme's decades-old conviction.

    Hemme's legal team said her 43 years in prison is the longest a woman has served due to a wrongful conviction in the United States.

    They will continue seeking a dismissal of any charges against her while Hemme reunites her remaining family.

    Hemme was convicted of the 1980 murder of Patricia Jeschke, 31, whose mother found her dead inside her Saint Joseph, Mo., apartment after she didn't show up for work at the city library.

    Despite having no connection to Jeschke, Hemme signed confession statements four times but was a psychiatric patient at the time.

    Her attorney argued the interviews occurred while Hemme was heavily medicated and her confessions didn't match the crime.

    "She signed those statements while under chemical restraints," O'Brien argued. The "psychiatric drugs literally [were] designed to overpower her will."

    Physical evidence also affirms she didn't commit the crime, O'Brien said.

    He said former Saint Joseph police officer Michael Holman, who died in 2015, likely committed the murder.

    Police ignored evidence pointing to Holman, including using her credit card to buy photography equipment the same day her body was found.

    Police also found earrings belonging to Jeschke in Holman's apartment.

    Holman also was investigated for burglaries and insurance fraud, and was imprisoned when he died.

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