John N. Prante

John N. Prante was sentenced in 1983 to 75 years in prison for the June 20, 1978 murder of Karla L. Brown, in the city of Wood River, Illinois. Prante is held in the Pinckneyville Correctional Center and listed as eligible for parole in 2019, and for release in 2022.

There were no witnesses to Brown’s death, the only physical evidence against Prant was disputed bite-mark testimony, a dentist testified that less than 1 percent of people have teeth that could have left the mark.

Two prints on a coffee carafe that authorities said the killer clearly had touched did not match Prante.

An attempt to get a judge to order a DNA test for blood on a couch cushion in Brown’s basement was rejected in 1993 as coming too late in the appeals process. Illinois later passed a law to accommodate post-conviction forensic testing.

In January 2017, in response to news that attorneys from the Exoneration Project and the Innocence Project were filing for DNA tests to be conducted, and for the unidentified prints to be checked against a National database, Don W. Weber, the former prosecutor, called efforts on Prante’s behalf “intellectual malpractice”, writing “I already convinced 12 people beyond a reasonable doubt and feel no obligation to respond to a bunch of misguided liberal do-gooders who think every investigation is like a TV reality show”.

Source: Bite mark on Metro East woman slain in 1978 pointed to her killer. Or did it? St. Louis Post-Dispatch, January 3, 2017

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