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Civil Rights Lawsuit Filed-Alleges Wrongful Imprisonment of Coos County Man
Attorneys for a man recently released from prison after being convicted in 2011 for the death of his then girlfriend, 15-year-old Leah Freeman, has filed a civil rights lawsuit in federal court today. Attorneys for Nicholas McGuffin say he was wrongfully sent to prison for manslaughter. In November, a judge had ordered that Nicholas McGuffin would receive a new trial on the original conviction. Freeman’s body was discovered dumped a few miles from her Coquille home in 2000.
McGuffin has maintained his innocence since being convicted. The Forensic Justice Project says the team discovered DNA evidence that was not disclosed in a report by the state crime lab. The judge says the DNA found on one of Freeman’s blood-stained shoes was from an unidentified male and that it was exculpatory. Today’s lawsuit against police, other officials in Coquille and surrounding jurisdictions implicates investigators manufactured false evidence and hid other evidence that would have cleared McGuffin.
After receiving word in December the state would not try the case, District Attorney Paul Frasier said he would move to dismiss the case. Frasier indicated he had cooperated with authorities for nearly four years after learning of the DNA evidence. Frasier said the DNA team at the Oregon State Police Crime Lab had a policy in place at the time that determined there was such a small amount of DNA evidence that it was not helpful or hindrance to the case.
McGuffin had served nearly his entire sentence. His attorney’s said he had missed most of his young daughter’s childhood. His career as an Executive Banquet Chef was destroyed by years of harassment preceding his wrongful imprisonment and the nine years behind bars that followed.
(Photos courtesy of Nicholas McGuffin)