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DNA points to new killer in '99 case

  • Story Highlights
  • Tests show DNA found on the the victim doesn't match that of Tim Masters
  • Masters convicted of killing, mutilating woman when he was 15
  • Prosecutor recommends Masters be freed pending new trial
  • Masters' attorneys already in court alleging police and prosecutorial misconduct
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From Eliott C. McLaughlin
CNN
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FORT COLLINS, Colorado (CNN) -- New evidence points to a different killer in the case of a Colorado man convicted in the sexual mutilation slaying of a woman when he was a teenager, the special prosecutor named to review the case said Friday.

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Tim Masters was 15 years old when Peggy Hettrick was brutally slain in 1987.

Adams County District Attorney Don Quick recommended that Tim Masters, now 36, be freed pending a new trial.

Masters was convicted and sentenced in 1999 to life in prison for the slaying of Peggy Hettrick 12 years earlier. But Quick said DNA evidence found on Hettrick's clothing matched another man, casting further doubt on a case already under a microscope.

The new evidence surfaced after the Colorado Bureau of Investigation conducted new tests on DNA found on Hettrick's clothing, finding partial profiles that did not match Masters.

Masters' defense team pursued further testing with a laboratory in the Netherlands that ultimately provided a match with another man who had once been considered a suspect.

The CBI laboratory reviewed the Dutch lab's findings and "confirmed the results consistent with the alternate suspect and inconsistent with Tim Masters," Quick said.

He did not identify the alternate suspect.

Masters' defense attorneys are in court alleging police and prosecutorial misconduct and arguing for a new trial.

Hearings on the case were scheduled to resume Tuesday, when the two original prosecutors in the case -- both now judges -- had been expected to take the stand.

Quick, who has already backed defense contentions that key pieces of evidence were withheld during the original trial, said he would make his recommendations for a new trial Tuesday morning.

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"We're going to go upstairs and see if there's anything that can be done this weekend" to get Masters out of prison, he said. "If not, it'll be done Tuesday morning."

The new defense team's claims of 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. Video Watch police try to bait teen Masters into murder confession » E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

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