KANSAS CITY (AP) - A man from southwest Missouri has been charged with a 2006 killing that had landed a teenager behind bars for more than three years until prosecutors dropped murder charges against him.
Timothy Seaman, 36, of Crane was charged with first-degree murder and armed criminal action on Tuesday in Stone County Circuit Court in the death of David Dulin of Hurley. Dulin, 53, was found shot to death in November 2006 at his home southwest of Springfield.
Zackary Stewart, now 22, was 18 when he was charged in 2007 with Dulin's death. A jury convicted him of murder the next year and sentenced him to life in prison without parole.
"We are glad that the prosecutor's office is finally going after the man who we believe committed this heinous crime," said Grant Rahmeyer, one of Stewart's attorneys. "The unfortunate part about all of this is that the evidence against Tim Seaman has been there for years, yet our client was forced to sit in jail while the prosecutor had all this evidence pointing at Seaman."
Seaman's public defender, Pamela Musgrave, said the office had no comment.
The Missouri Supreme Court had ordered a new trial for Stewart in May because of DNA evidence that linked Seaman - Stewart's brother-in-law - to the crime. Earlier this month, Stone County Prosecutor Matt Selby dropped the charges and Stewart went free.
That same day, Selby had Seaman - who was free on an own-recognizance bond while awaiting sentencing after pleading guilty to a felony gun charge - put back in jail in lieu of $50,000 cash-only bond.
"Three weeks ago a couple things came up that led me to believe not only was Tim Seaman involved, but that Zack Stewart wasn't," Selby told The Associated Press.
The state Supreme Court said DNA evidence linking Seaman to the killing, along with statements Seaman made to relatives indicating that he had killed someone and was at the scene of the slaying, cast doubt on Stewart's guilt.
Key evidence in Stewart's murder trial came from a pair of jailhouse informants who testified that Stewart had told them he committed the crime.
Jurors were told during the trial that Dulin called 911 and said two men in their 20s and 30s broke into his house and shot him in the head. Dulin said one of the men said he was the "Eby girl's boyfriend."
Paula Eby is Stewart's mother, and Seaman was married to one of Eby's daughters.
"This has been a case that, with the evidence we had, we filed a charge, we felt strongly about the evidence and took it to trial," Selby said. "The jury agreed with us and unanimously found Zack Stewart guilty beyond a reasonable doubt."
But he said things that came up during Stewart's trial, including a cap at the murder scene that Dulin's relatives said wasn't his, led investigators to continue working on the case. The hat was examined at a crime lab and found to contain DNA that matched Seaman, but not Stewart.
Also, a gun that belonged to Dulin turned up missing during the crime scene investigation. The weapon was found in February 2007 in Springfield and sent to the state crime lab, where investigators found that shell casings at the murder site were consistent with having been fired from that gun.
A Hurley resident told investigators in August 2008 that he had purchased the gun from Seaman after Dulin's death.
Rahmeyer said his client "plans on going on and living his life and working and getting his life back together."