SPRINGFIELD, Mo. - A 42-year-old southwest Missouri man serving four consecutive life sentences for the 2008 kidnapping and rape of a 7-year-girl returns to court Thursday with a post-conviction appeal that suggests police and prosecutors targeted the wrong man.
Jeffery Allen Dickson of Springfield was convicted in August 2009 of sexually assaulting the child and forcing her to smoke drugs before setting a fire to cover up his crimes. He remains imprisoned at the Potosi Correctional Center in southeast Missouri and may only appear via a long-distance video hookup.
Dickson's public defender says new evidence shows that his DNA sample was tainted by the state crime lab. She also questions whether police and fire investigators overlooked a second house fire one block away on the same street that happened two months earlier.