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Prosecutors to recommend new trial in Colorado slaying

FORT COLLINS, Colorado (CNN) — Special prosecutors in Colorado on Friday said they will recommend a new trial for a man convicted in the murder of a woman whose sexually mutilated body was found near his home more than 20 years ago.

New tests show DNA found on the victim does not match that of Tim Masters, who is serving a life sentence, said special prosecutor Don Quick.

This fall we requested new DNA testing of the victim’s clothing, Quick said.

We were able to compare and exclude Tim Masters as the source of those DNA samples.

Masters was convicted and sentenced in 1999 for the murder of Peggy Hettrick.

Ongoing hearings resume next week, as a judge re-examines decisions made years ago. Masters’ new lawyers say key evidence was withheld during the original trial, and a special prosecutor is backing them in at least four instances.

The defense team’s claims of police and prosecutorial misconduct are supported not only by the attorneys who represented Masters in 1999, but also by former police officers, investigators and forensic experts, some of whom say police ignored other viable suspects.

Lt. Jim Broderick, the Fort Collins investigator credited with cracking the case after 12 years hunting Hettrick’s killer, said in a November interview that he stands staunchly by his investigation.

He declined to discuss the specific allegations at issue in the current hearings, but said he has seen no new evidence that leads him to believe Masters deserves another trial.

If a judge rules otherwise he’ll accept it, he said, because the last thing in the world I want is someone convicted of a crime they didn’t do. Watch police try to bait teen Masters into murder confession

The Fort Collins police chief said he stands by Broderick’s work.

However, several authorities have told CNN they have their doubts about the fairness of the original trial and investigation. See the key players in the case

Included are a key forensic expert for the 1999 prosecution, a former lead investigator, a former Colorado Bureau of Investigation forensic expert and two former Fort Collins police officers who say they never believed Masters did it. Also, two other former officers have testified they believe their colleagues withheld evidence favorable to Masters.

In 1999, prosecutors told a jury only Masters could have killed and maimed the 37-year-old redhead whose body was found in a field off Landings Drive on February 12, 1987.

Some think differently. They believe Masters, now 36, was convicted via faulty logic, pop psychology, underhanded investigative tactics and a collection of spooky doodles.

I’m not sure who killed Peggy Hettrick, but I am positive, without a doubt, that Tim Masters did not, said former Fort Collins police Det. Troy Krenning.

A single, deep stab wound killed Hettrick. After she was dead, someone — presumably her killer — sliced away one nipple and much of her genitals. E-mail to a friend

CNN’s Eliott C. McLaughlin contributed to this report.

Prosecutors to recommend new trial in Colorado slaying – found here.

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January 19, 2008 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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