A man convicted of killing a young boy sat in prison for more than nine years.
But, what if he didn’t commit the crime?
The ABC15 Investigators reveal new evidence in the case, and what it means for convictions across the country.
We follow four students from Northern Arizona University investigating the case of Jason Krause who said his conviction doesn’t make sense, raising new questions about his innocence.
The shooting happened in the summer of 1994.
“It was about 11 o’clock at night,” Krause told the ABC15 Investigators.
Sixteen years later, Krause is still re-living that night.
“I was out at the chicken coop. I had been out on and off during the nights for about two weeks or so,” Krause said.
He said he was carrying a .22 caliber rifle near his creek side home in Prescott, Arizona, looking for animals that had been killing his eight-year-old son’s chickens.
“I heard a vehicle off in the distance. It sounded like gun shots – heavy caliber type weapons,” Krause said.
A Jeep, carrying four teenagers, had been approaching quickly.
“And, I thought at the time, this is like a drive by shooting,” Krause said.
He said he fell to the ground, thinking he was in danger.
“I tried to cover up my head, just as an instinctive protection. And, at that time accidently squeezed a round off in the rifle because I saw the flash,” Krause said.
The Jeep crashed. The driver, 18-year-old Charles Thurman, had been shot in the head.
“At that moment, it hit me,” Krause said. “My rifle went off; I must have shot that boy.”
Krause told police what he thought had happened: an accident.
“I figured everything was going to be okay, because they’ll sort it all out and it will all be fine,” he said. “[It] doesn’t work that way.
Krause was charged with one count of second degree murder in the death of Charles Thurman and three counts of attempted second degree murder for the three other kids riding in the Jeep.
After the six week trial, the jury came back with its verdict.
“I had been outside with my son. And, that's when I told him ‘I don't think Dad's coming home for dinner’,” Krause said.
Krause was found guilty of manslaughter for killing Charles Thurman.
“I think the newspaper said I sat there with no emotion,” Krause said. “I was in shock. I couldn't fathom this.”
Krause served more than nine years in prison, on a 10.5 year sentence, for a crime he says he didn’t commit.
Now, four students from Northern Arizona University are taking a new look at Krause’s case.
“That’s where we’ve been in the last year, trying to figure out why this doesn’t make sense,” said Chris Duarte, one of the students looking into the case, along with Ryan Staab, Molly Schiffer and Ryan Riggens.
They are working in conjunction with the Northern Arizona Innocence Project and the FBI, because a large part of Krause’s conviction was based on something called Composite Bullet Lead Analysis – or CBLA.
It’s a forensic technique once used by the FBI to link crime scene bullets to weapons.
However, the FBI has now discredited this type of evidence.
“They’ve determined essentially that it’s junk science,” Staab told the ABC15 Investigators.
As a result, the FBI is looking into hundreds of cases where CBLA evidence and testimony was a key factor in getting convictions.
Four of those cases are here, in Arizona – including Jason Krause.
“This evidence and this testimony went to assist in the prosecution’s case against the defendant,” said Duarte.
That crucial piece of evidence is no longer supported by the FBI.
Still, these students said they needed more to establish Krause’s innocence.
“We wanted to go into this with a completely open mind, being completely objective, no bias on our part,” said Duarte.
They have been pouring through trial transcripts and police reports.
But, when the students saw the medical examiner’s report, it became clear.
“There’s no way we believe that fatal shot came from Krause’s rifle,” Staab said.
Prosecutors said Krause fired off three bullets from his rifle.
One bullet hit in the left, rear tire.
Another bullet hit in the Jeep’s rocker panel, located right below the driver’s side door.
But, the bullet that killed the driver is raising serious questions about this case.
Duarte and Staab say the kill shot doesn’t make sense.
According to the medical examiner’s report, that bullet entered the victim’s head from the back and exited out the front.
“So, visually it doesn’t make sense for Krause to be facing … perpendicular to the car, and to have … the kill shot entered the way it did,” Duarte said.
“Something that had not happened in 1994, was to do the elevation,” he said.
Meaning, the students would need to determine how high Krause was standing compared to the road.
“And, where the bullet would have had to have entered in at that time,” Duarte said.
So, they went to the scene of the crime and took measurements.
Then, they sent those numbers off to Phil Locke, a science advisor for the Ohio Innocence Project .