Missouri Man Cleared In 1997 Sex Case By DNA Evidence

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A Missouri man who spent nearly two decades in mental hospitals after entering a disputed plea in the 1997 sexual assault of a teenager has been cleared after retesting of genetic evidence excluded him as a suspect.

Jasper County’s prosecutor dropped the case against 58-year-old Mike Wilkerson last Friday, citing recent DNA testing of a cigarette butt and a condom found at the scene.

The victim, who was then age 17, said she was attacked in her home and identified Wilkerson from a photo lineup.

Wilkerson had pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity and was ordered committed indefinitely to mental hospitals. But a judge last year threw out that plea, leading to Wilkerson being freed on bond pending a new trial and to prosecutors taking a fresh look at the evidence.

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