Scott County Sheriff hopes fingerprint will help solve '92 slaying

Wednesday, October 12, 2011 | 3:43 p.m. CDT

BENTON — A southeastern Missouri sheriff trying to solve a nearly 20-year-old homicide is hoping a fingerprint lifted from evidence using new technology will lead to a break in the case.

Scott County Sheriff Rick Walter told KFVS-TV that John Bond, a scientist in England has managed to pull a "pretty good" fingerprint off a curved metal surface on a piece of evidence collected after the 1992 slaying of Angela Mischelle Lawless, a nursing student.

"We're trying to get a good flat print off of it," Walter said, noting that the print they lifted needs further analysis. "Somewhere there's still a couple of guys running around out there that got away with murder in this county. That's something I can't live with.

"For Scott County and for this family we're going to find out who did this."

Lawless, who was 19 years old when she was killed, was found dead in her car near the Benton exit off Interstate 55. She had been shot three times and had been struck in the head.

Joshua Kezer, a teenager at the time, was convicted and sentenced to 60 years in prison. In 2009, a judge exonerated Kezer after ruling that key evidence was kept from Kezer's defense attorneys during his initial trial. Kezer was freed from prison.

The judge also criticized the courtroom conduct of former special state prosecutor Kenny Hulshof, who later served six terms in Congress and unsuccessfully sought the Republican nomination for governor in 2008.

Kezer told KFVS that the community should rally around Walter in the effort to solve the case.

"The evidence is out there," said Kezer, who last year reached an unspecified settlement in his lawsuit against the county and its former law enforcement officers whose work put him behind bars.

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