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Friday, March 6, 1998 Published at 13:42 GMT

World: Americas

New evidence in 'fugitive' case
image: [ Attorney Terry Gilbert: evidence appears to indicate that  Dr Sheppard did not kill his wife ]
Attorney Terry Gilbert: evidence appears to indicate that Dr Sheppard did not kill his wife

DNA tests from the scene of the murder which inspired 'The Fugitive' TV show and film, point to a new killer.

Dr Sam Sheppard was convicted of his wife's murder in 1954 and was jailed for 10 years before being freed on the grounds that his trial was unfair.

Now, according to a lawyer for Dr Sheppard's son, blood and semen samples taken from the scene of the killing in Cleveland in the US indicate that another man was responsible.

[ image: Bloodstained woodchip provides crucial evidence]
Bloodstained woodchip provides crucial evidence
He said DNA tests showed that blood in the Ohio house match the genetic make-up of a man who is serving a life term for the 1984 murder of a widow.

"The trail of blood could only have come from the killer, and Dr Sheppard is excluded from that," attorney Terry Gilbert said.

Dr Sheppard was released from jail after the US Supreme Court declared that his trial was tainted by adverse publicity. He was subsequently acquitted.

Dr Sheppard died in 1970 aged 46.

The TV show and film 'The Fugitive' centre on a fictional character named Dr Richard Kimble who escaped from authorities after being accused of his wife's murder, and pursued a one-armed man who actually committed the crime.

Son exhumes body for evidence

Dr Sheppard had maintained that, at the time of the murder, he was asleep on a downstairs couch of the family home when he was awakened by screams.

The BBC's Bill Turnbull reports from Washington (43")
He said that he wrestled with an intruder who knocked him unconscious and escaped.

The issue of Dr Sheppard's guilt came to light again when his son, Sam Reese Sheppard, arranged for his father's body to be exhumed in September 1997 to obtain genetic material.

The son had won the right from Ohio's Supreme Court to pursue a $2m legal case against the state for wrongfully imprisoning his father.

Sam Reese Sheppard contends that his mother bit her attacker as she was raped, and his blood was spilled throughout the home.

Tests were carried out on bloodstains taken from the room where Marilyn Sheppard was found and from Dr Sheppard's trousers.

Semen samples taken from Marilyn Sheppard revealed the presence of DNA from Dr Sheppard and another man, Terry Gilbert said.

But he said bloodstains from the scene did not belong to Dr Sheppard.

From prison, the newly-accused man has denied responsibility for murdering Marilyn Sheppard and said any blood found in the house came from a finger he cut washing their windows.

The prosecutor, Stephanie Tubbs-Jones, said that she would not retry the Sheppard murder because the physical evidence was either old or missing and there were no credible witnesses.

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