Judge sets new trial for Dent County man freed from prison for murder

Published: Sep. 16, 2020 at 5:12 PM CDT
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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) - An October trial date is set for a man who was jailed for 11 years for murder.

It was a cold case from 1982 that was once thought to be solved. But the murder conviction against Donald Nash was recently vacated.

Now, the victim’s family is pleading for justice again.

Family photos are the only thing Jeanne Paris has left to hold onto.

Her younger sister Judy Spencer was brutally murdered in 1982 in Salem.

After new DNA evidence solved another high profile crime, that against Jackie Johns, Jeanne Paris demanded her sister’s case be re-opened. And in 2009, a conviction came against Judy’s then boyfriend, Donald Nash.

But now, it’s back to square one.

“In this case, the DNA under her fingernails was basically meaningless because people who live together, particularly in an intimate relationship like Mr. Nash and the victim, it’s common to have DNA under the fingernails,” explained Nash’s defense attorney Charlie Weiss of St. Louis.

Nash’s defense team discredited the evidence-- enough so that the Missouri Supreme Court vacated Nash’s conviction in July, and declared he had proven himself innocent. He walked free from the Dent County Jail on Independence Day, 2020.

“The person (the prosecution’s DNA witness) was unable to point to any publication in the history of humanity that actually supported the opinion she was giving, and that’s why the Missouri Supreme Court said this is completely discredited," said Jonathan Potts, another of Nash’s defense attorneys.

The state gave a local prosecutor 30 days to elect to re-try Nash, and he did-- unprecedented in such case.

But Jeanne believes that’s because the evidence does tell what happened that night.

“There were two different samples of DNA under her fingernails. It was hers and it was his. There is no third DNA, so where is the other DNA if somebody else did it?” Jeanne said.

The case will be re-tried on October 19 in Crawford County. Both sides say they are confident they will win. We will follow it and keep you posted.

Copyright 2020 KY3. All rights reserved.

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