FOX47 NEWS - 1980 Murder Suspect Cleared of Charges

Jeff Angileri
Aug 19, 2009, 10:25 PM

After 29 years behind bars, a man convicted of raping and murdering a UW student is cleared of those charges.

This month, a judge tossed out the conviction of Ralph Armstrong and blasted prosecutors. On Wednesday, the Dane County District Attorney's office said it will not appeal.

Dane County prosecutors thought they had their man. Ralph Armstrong, they said during the 1981 trail, raped and murdered Charise Kamps on June 24th, 1980. To the D.A., Armstrong was a likely suspect. He was seen with Kamps the night she was murdered, and he was a convicted sex offender on parole at the time.

Twenty-four years later, the Wisconsin Supreme Court overturned his conviction, based on new DNA tests.

In a statement, the D.A.'s office said it will no longer appeal, and insisted prosecutors "pursued the case in good faith" and "any errors...were the product of innocent mistake or oversight."

Armstrong's attorney, Jerome Buting, says that's not enough.

"Unfortunately, it doesn't sound like they're willing to accept much responsibility in the fact that this man spent 29 years in prison for a crime he did not commit," Buting said.

Armstrong maintained his innocence all along. "It's not my burden to find out who did," he said in 2005. "It's my burden of proof that it wasn't me."

Ralph Armstrong is not a free man yet. He was on parole in New Mexico when the murder happened -- so that parole was revoked.

He now has to return to New Mexico, where prosecutors could choose to make him serve out his sentence.

Armstrong's attorney says that is unlikely, since the violations were for drug and alcohol use.

Ralph Armstrong has already been transferred from prison to the Columbia County Jail. He is awaiting a transport from authorities in New Mexico.

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