ST. LOUIS - A convicted murderer lost his latest appeal to get out of prison.

A jury convicted Rodney Lee Lincoln of murdering Joann Tate in 1983. She was found stabbed in the chest with a steak knife. She had been assaulted with a broom in her rectum.

Lincoln said he was innocent, and in 2005 the Midwest Innocence Project started fighting Lincoln's case. His lawyer, Laura O'Sullivan said new evidence in the case proved her client wasn't the killer. It was a strand of hair found at the crime scene.

Circuit Attorney Jennifer Joyce agreed to test the hair after Missouri lawmakers changed the law to make it easier for DNA evidence to be introduced after convictions. The test on the hair wasn't conclusive. It didn't prove Lincoln's innocence or guilt.

O'Sullivan asked Circuit Court Judge Robin Vannoy to throw out the case. Circuit court attorneys told the judge the strand of hair couldn't show Lincoln was innocent of the crime.

On Christmas Eve, Judge Vannoy ruled in favor of prosecutors.

Lincoln's daughter Kay said she had hoped the judge would let her father come home after 30 years in prison.

"He's innocent," she said.

Lincoln, his lawyer, and his family aren't giving up the fight to clear him. The next step is the Missouri Court of Appeals.