DNA evidence points to possible new suspect in 1994 Montana City - KXLH.com | Helena, Montana

DNA evidence points to possible new suspect in 1994 Montana City murder

Posted: Mar 01, 2018 5:41 PM Updated:

In 1994, Donna Meagher was robbed, kidnapped and beaten to death as she was closing up for the night at the Jackson Creek Saloon in Montana City.

Now, DNA tests could mean freedom for Paul Jenkins, 63 years old, and Fred Lawrence, 55, the two men who've spent decades behind bars for the murder. 

Jenkins and Lawrence were arrested months later and tried at the same time with two separate juries during a Lewis & Clark County trial led by then-County Attorney Mike McGrath.

The Montana Innocence Project says that new testing on crime scene evidence points to a different killer -- a man already serving time for another murder, David Nelson. Lawyers say new forensic testing reveals it is Nelson’s DNA at the crime scene, and not that of Jenkins or Lawrence.

Lawyers for Jenkins and Lawrence filed a motion in Helena District Court to overturn the conviction and immediately release the two men. The motion was filed last month and unsealed this week by Judge Kathy Seeley.

Nelson is already in prison for the murders of Bev Giannonatti, 79 years old, and Greg Giannonatti, 57. He also served time for aggravated assault in Ravalli County in 1998.

The motion to release Jenkins and Lawrence from prison will be heard in Judge Kathy Seeley’s court in Helena on March 9 where she’ll decide the next steps in the case.

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