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Man whose conviction overturned suing, says he was framed

July 20, 2020 GMT

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — A man whose manslaughter conviction was overturned because the Oregon State Police crime lab failed to disclose it had found another man’s DNA on the victim’s shoe filed a federal civil rights lawsuit Monday against police.

Nicholas McGuffin, 38, filed suit in U.S. District Court in Eugene. It names multiple Coquille, Coos County and Oregon State Police law enforcement officials. He alleges that authorities manufactured and hid evidence in their case against him, The Oregonian/OregonLive reported.

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The lawsuit also names McGuffin’s daughter as a plaintiff. The girl was 3 when her father was convicted. The suit alleges the girl and other members of McGuffin’s family were harassed and publicly humiliated as a result of her father’s ties to the case.

McGuffin now lives in Portland and works as a chef.

Coos County and Coquille city officials did not immediately respond to requests for comment Monday, while Oregon State Police officials declined to comment.

McGuffin was convicted of killing Leah Freeman, then 15. Freeman vanished June 28, 2000, after leaving a friend’s house.

One of her shoes was found by a cemetery that night; the other about a week later near a rural road. Her body was found five weeks later down a steep embankment and was too badly decomposed for a medical examiner to determine how she died.

Her boyfriend at the time was McGuffin. Then 18, McGuffin was investigated, but there was no physical evidence linking him to the crime.

In 2008, detectives reinvestigated, identifying a dozen suspects including McGuffin. The case went to grand jury and McGuffin was indicted in 2010. In 2011, a jury found him guilty of manslaughter.

Last year, Malheur County Circuit Senior Judge Patricia Sullivan overturned McGuffin’s conviction because of the Oregon State Police crime lab’s failure to disclose the other DNA on the girl’s shoe. The judge ruled that the crucial DNA information could have led the jury to acquit McGuffin.

He was released from prison in December.

Andrew C. Lauersdorf, one of McGuffin’s lawyers, said in a statement Monday that Nick has really been left with “no choice but to file this lawsuit to reveal the truth about what they did to him, and, hopefully, persuade them to reopen their investigation and get to the bottom of what really happened to Leah. Today we start that process.”