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Coos County DA Responds to Overturned Manslaughter Conviction
The Coos County District Attorney will continue to watch what happens with the recent decision by a Malheur County Circuit Court Judge. That decision overturned a manslaughter conviction of Nicholas McGuffin in the death of Leah Freeman based on the existence of exculpatory DNA evidence. DA R. Paul Frasier said he became aware of an “unaccounted for male DNA” found in blood on the shoes of Freeman in 2015. Since then, he has fully cooperated with investigators on the claims. He says initially the DNA information was included in raw data provided to both prosecutors and defense attorneys before the case went to trial, but it was not interpreted and included in the state crime lab report. 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. He also said that the judge found no evidence that the DA or Investigators did anything wrong. The case is now in the hands of the state. If they decide not to appeal, McGuffin would be returned to Coos County Custody. It would be then he would determine if he would retry or dismiss the case. Several factors including that McGuffin has nearly served all his sentence, whether or not there is enough DNA to prove his innocence and whether Leah Freeman’s mother would want to go to trial would be part of that decision.