COQUILLE, Ore. – Coquille residents are speaking out about the overturning of Nicholas McGuffin’s conviction for killing his girlfriend almost 20 years ago.
Leah Freeman, who was 15 at the time, was last seen leaving a friend’s house in June 2000. Her body was found months later in the woods right outside of town.
McGuffin was convicted of manslaughter in 2011. However, courts overturned the ruling last week, citing DNA evidence that shows there was DNA from an unknown man on Freeman's shoe.
Court documents claim at the time of the trial, McGuffin's defense lawyer did not hire an expert to analyze the DNA report, which would have revealed the presence of the unknown DNA.
“This is just an unfortunate situation where science has -- the DNA technology is so much more advanced 19 years later,” said Coos County District Attorney Paul Frasier.
However, Frasier said this new evidence doesn’t determine whether McGuffin is guilty or not.
One neighbor told KEZI 9 News that McGuffin was guilty back then and he’s guilty now, no matter what the DNA says.
They also said McGuffin’s conviction gave Freeman’s family peace for her death, and they worry the new ruling will change that.
However, another neighbor says McGuffin did his time, so he deserves to be released. She says she hopes this gives him another chance at life.
“Well I would hope that Lord willing that he could be reunited with his child and wife if that’s the way it’s supposed to be,” said Barbara Krimmer, a Coquille resident. “Like I said, he served his time as far as I’m concerned.”
Frasier says the Attorney General has until Dec. 30 to decide whether to appeal the ruling. If they decide to appeal, Frasier says he will have the option to retry McGuffin in the future.
McGuffin is expected to be released by August 2020, unless the courts clear his name first.