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Sheriff: Missing evidence in murder case found in locker

SIOUX FALLS (AP) -- An envelope found in a McCook County Sheriff's Office evidence locker is related to the case of a South Dakota inmate trying to prove his innocence, Sheriff Mark Norris said.

SIOUX FALLS (AP) - An envelope found in a McCook County Sheriff's Office evidence locker is related to the case of a South Dakota inmate trying to prove his innocence, Sheriff Mark Norris said.

The Innocence Project of Minnesota began researching Stacy Larson's second-degree murder case a decade ago and concluded he could not have fired the shot that killed Ronald Hilgenberg in 1990, the Argus Leader reported. Larson has spent the past 25 years serving life in prison.

But the group's effort to exonerate Larson had come to halt after it concluded the evidence was lost or destroyed.

Norris said he was cleaning an evidence locker and digging through a box for an unrelated case when he found the packet.

"I was dumbfounded," he said.

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Authorities have notified Larson's lawyer, Jason Rumpca, and the McCook County state's attorney about the evidence.

Julie Jonas, legal director for the Innocence Project of Minnesota, said she and Rumpca are discussing what the development means for the case.

"It makes me want to ask the sheriff to look again through everything to see if there's more that can be found in an odd place," Jonas said.

Jonas said the envelope contains swabs taken from Larson's car after his arrest, and testing could reveal whether gun powder residue was present in the car. A negative result could cast doubt on whether Larson fired a shotgun from his vehicle, as prosecutors described.

"It's not going to prove who did it, but it would prove that it wasn't me," Larson said Monday in a telephone interview with the newspaper.

Larson said he was shocked to learn about the discovery from his lawyer, and he hopes it can be a catalyst for reopening his case.

"I started freaking out," Larson said, "like holy cow."

Attorney General Marty Jackley said Monday he was aware of the development and was preparing to comment on the case later Monday.

Related Topics: CRIME
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