|William "Ricky" Virgil. Campbell County Detention Center.|
Judge Julie Ward granted a motion from Campbell County Commonwealth Attorney, Michelle Snodgrass to drop the charges and dismiss the case without prejudice.
"We made a decision based on the status of the case as it now exists," said Snodgrass. "We respect the work of the grand jury and based on what we know it was my obligation to make that motion to the judge."
Virgil's conviction was thrown out and he was released from prison on bond thanks in large part to DNA testing that was not available when he was found guilty.
On April 11, 1987, Welch's body was found in a blood-filled bathtub of her Newport, Ky., apartment. She was reported to have been raped, stabbed repeatedly and bludgeoned with a vase. Her car and several items from her apartment were missing.
Judge Fred Stine overturned Virgil's conviction based on the findings from the Innocence Project, which include: DNA testing showed blood on Virgil's clothes did not belong to Welch and semen in her was not his; hairs found on Welch's clothing did not match Virgil; witnesses' stories no longer held up under scrutiny; and other suspects were ignored.
During the retrial, Virgil's attorneys claimed that prosecutors purposefully destroyed evidence and "fabricated" evidence in the case to "successfully frame Mr. Virgil for murder."
The Innocence Project alleges prosecutors were responsible for destroying a knife in 2005 that had been used as evidence during Virgil’s trial "with full knowledge that forensic testing of the knife could lead to Mr. Virgil's complete exoneration."
Prosecutors asked a judge to order the knife destroyed without Virgil being present or being provided notice that such a request took place, according to the motion. The knife had been linked to another suspect in Welch's death.
Virgil's attorneys also allege that a jailhouse informant who told jurors Virgil confessed to him while the two shared a jail cell had recanted his testimony in a sworn affidavit.
Fort Thomas Matters will have more on this story.