Montana state prison inmate freed after murder conviction case

Montana state prison inmate Freddie Joe Lawrence, whose conviction in 1994 for murder near Helena was overturned and he walked out of prison with two members of the Montana Innocence Project.

Montana state prison inmate Freddie Joe Lawrence, whose conviction in 1994 for murder near Helena was overturned and he walked out of prison with two members of the Montana Innocence Project.

District Judge Kathy Seeley vacated the convictions of Freddie Joe Lawrence and Paul Jenkins in the death of Donna Meagher, who was kidnapped from a family owned casino in Montana City and killed west of Helena. AP News reported.

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DNA evidence on a rope found at the crime scene matched David Wayne Nelson, who is serving life in Montana state prison for killing Beverly Giannonatti, 79, and her son, Greg Giannonatti, 57, in Deer Lodge, Montana in October 2015.

The attorney office is still deciding whether to charge Lawrence and Jenkins in Meagher’s killing again while it also investigates Nelson, spokesman Eric Sell said.



Seeley’s order set several conditions for inmate Lawrence, 56, who will live in Missoula in housing set up by the Montana Innocence Project.

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He is subject to the electronic monitoring device for up to six weeks until a hearing can be held on the matter. Lawrence also must not use alcohol, must stay out of bars and cannot use any narcotics that is not prescribed to him. He cannot have any firearm or weapons, must undergo a mental health evaluation and follow any recommendations and look for a volunteer opportunity or find any job.

Jenkins, 64, who has been at the Montana state prison infirmary in Lewistown, was to be picked up by family members. Department of Corrections records indicated he was still in the infirmary. Jenkins will live with his daughter and has similar prohibitions concerning alcohol, narcotics, and weapons.

The men were in Montana state prison since their sentencing in May 1995.