Rodney Lincoln’s sentence commuted after three decades in prison

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JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – On his last day as governor, Eric Greitens commuted sentences and issued pardons in what he said is the ability to make wrong things right.

Our news cameras were there when Rodney Lincoln was released from prison after spending more than three decades behind bars for a crime he said he did not commit.

Lincoln, 73, said he received a personal phone call from Greitens on Friday morning with the news. DNA evidence and eyewitness testimony were used to convict Lincoln back in the 1980s, but it was discovered years later the DNA evidence was wrong and the eyewitness, who was a child at the time, recanted her testimony as an adult.

Lincoln has been in prison for the murder of JoAnne Tate and for attacking her two daughters with a knife. Melissa DeBoer, the victim’s daughter, recanted her testimony after watching an episode of “Crime Watch Daily “that featured the case. It suggested that serial killer Tommy Lynn Sells might have been the suspect. After watching the show, she said she had flashbacks and realized he was, in fact, the man who killed her mother.

DeBoer said, as a child, she felt a great responsibility to catch the bad man who killed her mother. She said she wanted to please detectives in the case and as a child, she felt manipulated to say the killer was Lincoln.

Tricia Bushnell, the executive director of the Midwest Innocence Project, released a statement Friday, saying, in part:

“Mr. Lincoln walks out of prison a free and innocent man, whether the courts recognize it or not. This is a big step toward justice, but until his conviction is overturned, justice is yet again denied.”

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