October 8, 2012
This 2008 photo shows a house in Springfield, Mo., where prosecutors said Jeffrey Allen Dickson left his victim, a 7-year-old girl, to die after setting it ablaze to cover up his crime. The girl survived and a Springfield jury quickly found Dickson guilty of child kidnapping, forcible rape and forcible sodomy in the April 5, 2008 attack. But new evidence unearthed by Dickson's state-appointed appeals court lawyer and reviewed as part of a five-month Associated Press investigation suggests that a rush to judgment could have caused police and prosecutors to target the wrong man. He is scheduled to argue his appeal on Tuesday and Wednesday, Oct. 10, 2012, in Springfield, Mo.
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The crime was brutal: a 7-year-old girl choked, raped and forced to smoke drugs before she was left for dead in a fire set by her attacker. Somehow, she survived. Firefighters founder her at dawn, stumbling through the street and wearing just one shoe.
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