Illinois man freed after DNA evidence clears him in murder

DECATUR, Ill. (AP) - A Decatur man who spent 18 years in prison for murder was released after DNA evidence cleared him in the case.

Charles Palmer was convicted for the 1998 murder of William Helmbacher, but the Illinois Innocence Project says fingernail scrapings and hair on Helmbacher's hand did not match Palmer's DNA.

A Macon County judge overturned Palmer's 2000 conviction for first-degree murder last week. The 62-year-old got a new trial but prosecutors said Wednesday they would not try him again.

Helmbacher was found dead in his Decatur apartment. He had been beaten with a hammer.

Police initially suspected a man who lived next door because he was caught with a bag filled with Helmbacher's possessions. But authorities relied on his testimony implicating Palmer in the murder.

(Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)


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