A Missouri man who was found guilty of shooting and killing his wife on Christmas Day in 2006 was wrongfully convicted, a judge ruled Thursday.
Brad Jennings was charged with second-degree murder and armed criminal action months after his wife, Lisa Jennings, died of a gunshot wound to the head in their Buffalo, Mo. home, reported the Springfield News-Leader. She was 39 years old.
The death was initially ruled a suicide by the Dallas County Sheriff’s Office and the county coroner.
Investigators with the Missouri State Highway Patrol reviewed the case and conducted a blood-spatter analysis, which later led to a murder charge filed against Jennings and a conviction. The case was prosecuted by the Missouri Attorney General’s Office.
Jennings was sentenced to 25 years in prison after a jury trial in 2009. He’s currently being held at the South Central Correctional Center in Licking, Mo.
The Springfield News-Leader, which has covered the case extensively, reported that jurors at the trial didn’t get to see the results of a gunshot residue test authorities conducted on a bathrobe Jennings wore on the night of his wife’s death. The test showed no trace of gunshot residue, but the evidence wasn’t disclosed to the prosecutor and went undiscovered until 2016, the newspaper reported.
A judge in Phelps County was presented with this key piece of evidence last November, and ruled in favor of Jennings on Thursday, vacating the murder conviction.
The News-Leader said the judge also questioned the highway patrol’s investigative work in the case, adding that the sergeant who conducted an analysis of the blood spatter “had only completed 72 hours of training in bloodstain analysis and he did not consider himself an expert” at the time when the death was being investigated.
An attorney filed a motion Thursday requesting Jennings be released from prison.
The Attorney General could try the case again in court, according to the judge’s order.