YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio - A man who spent two years behind bars after being charged with murdering an 80-year-old woman in a church parking lot was released from prison Friday, and a prosecutor said new evidence implicates a now-dead ex-convict.
A palm print found at the crime scene where Angeline Fimognari was killed doesn't match that of 20-year-old Jamar Houser, Mahoning County prosecutor Paul Gains said. Authorities believe the print was left by the killer as he reached into the car to steal her purse.
Fimognari was shot in the head while in the parking lot of St. Dominic Catholic Church in Youngstown in January 2010 after attending Mass. Her death focused attention on crime issues in a neighborhood pockmarked with vacant and boarded-up homes.
Gains said two witnesses came forward on April 24 saying Duane Colvin, of Youngstown, had confessed to the murder. The 32-year-old Colvin was killed in September, and the case remains unsolved.
Colvin's body was exhumed on May 17, and the palm print on the car matched his.
"The police department and this office recognize that we have a duty to convict the guilty and exonerate the innocent," Gains said. "At this time, there is insufficient evidence to prosecute Mr. Houser."
A judge in Mahoning County Common Pleas Court dismissed the murder charge against Houser on Thursday, and he was released from the county jail.
Gains said Houser must still answer to the felony charges in a shooting unrelated to the Fimognari case.
Fimognari's relatives have been briefed on the development.
"They are relieved that there is physical evidence linking Colvin to the crime. What was indicated to me is that this will facilitate closure for the family," Gains said.
Colvin was released from prison just weeks before Fimognari was killed. In 1996, the then-16-year-old Colvin was sentenced to more than 37 years in prison after two food outlet holdups in October 1995. He was convicted of robbery, escape and weapons charges.
Colvin served 14 years and was released from prison in December 2009.
His fingerprints were on file from the prior conviction, but there was no record of his palm prints, which aren't filed for convicted felons.
The Fimognari murder case technically will remain open to allow authorities to refile charges against anyone involved in the case at a later date.
Calls to a phone listed in the Houser name rang unanswered Friday.
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