A state court judge has thrown out the 2011 manslaughter conviction of Nick McGuffin of Coquille, Ore., after the Oregon Innocence Project proved that the Oregon State Police crime lab withheld DNA evidence from McGuffin's trial.
McGuffin was convicted of manslaughter in the 2000 death of Leah Freeman, his girlfriend. McGuffin finally went on trial more than a decade after Freeman's death—but at the time, a crime lab employee detected DNA from another man on Freeman's shoes. The crime lab employee didn't notify McGuffin's attorney, as the law requires.
McGuffin's case was one of the first taken on by the Oregon Innocence Project when it was founded in 2014. Janis Puracal, a lawyer who worked on the case, left the Oregon Innocence Project last year but continued working on the case at the Forensic Justice Project.
"Nick's case shows the critical importance of having access to all potentially exculpatory evidence in a case and, as Judge Sullivan noted, how not reporting everything can upend what we thought we knew, even many years later," said Oregon Innocence Project Director Steve Wax in a statement.
McGuffin has served nine years of his ten-year sentence. His case will now be sent back to Coos County, where the district attorney will have to decide whether to re-try him or dismiss the case.
Washington Post reporter Katie Shepherd today published a lengthy account of the case from its beginning here.