Rodney Lincoln was convicted of murdering Joanne Tate and sexually assaulting her two young daughters in 1982. He has maintained his innocence ever since.

Missouri Supreme Court refuses to hear inmate's innocence claims

A man serving a life sentence is denied an appeal hearing by Missouri’s Supreme Court, despite DNA tests proving the hair used at trial wasn’t his and the only eyewitness recanting her testimony.

Article Continues Below

PREVIOUS STORY: 34 years later: Rodney Lincoln gets chance to prove his innocence in 1982 St. Louis murder 

As 41 Action News first reported last year,  Rodney Lincoln appealed his 1982 murder conviction to Missouri’s Court of Appeals but was denied.

The ruling stated innocence claims should only be allowed in death row cases.

The Missouri Supreme Court upheld that ruling this week by refusing to hear Lincoln’s case.

Article Continues Below

“There's no way a jury would’ve convicted Rodney if it had been fully informed,” said Sean O’Brien, UMKC Law Professor who helped work on Lincoln’s case.

DNA testing later showed the hair presented at trial turned out to not be Lincoln’s, but he’s still in prison 35 years later. 

“Zero evidence tying him to the crime and the evidence they used at trial we’ve discovered that it was completely tainted with improper procedures,” O’Brien told 41 Action News.

O’Brien said one of those improper procedures is the police lineup of Lincoln they showed the murder victim’s seven year old daughter.

Article Continues Below

At the time, she had told police she saw the murderer and he had short hair, but all the men in the lineup had long hair except for Lincoln.

“This poor girl was manipulated into picking a picture of Rodney,” O’Brien said about the victim’s daughter who later recanted her testimony as an adult.

The Midwest Innocence Project is representing Lincoln for free and has tried to get his appeals heard for years. 

"The Missouri Supreme Court has declined to change the Court of Appeals' ruling that innocence is only enough to get you released if you are sentenced to death, and Mr. Lincoln was not sentenced to death. That is now the law in Missouri. The only hope for justice from Missouri rests now in Governor Greitens' and the parole board 's hands," Midwest Innocence Project Director Tricia Bushnell said in a statement.

Now that the Missouri Supreme Court has denied his appeal request, Lincoln’s last hope in the state is to either get paroled or a pardon from Governor Eric Greitens.