Evidentiary hearing granted for Prescott man thought wrongfully convicted

PHOENIX - After serving nine years in prison for a crime he says he didn't commit, a Prescott man has a chance to clear his name.

Nineteen years ago, a Prescott teen was fatally shot in the head. It happened near the home of Jay Krause, who was out in his yard with a rifle. An accidental discharge of the weapon led to Krause being convicted of manslaughter.

Now, a judge has granted Krause an evidentiary hearing. It could call into question the evidence in the case, which could vacate his guilty verdict.

Prescott is in Yavapai County, where the initial case was tried. But multiple judges from there have cited a conflict of interest, so the case was reassigned to a Mohave County judge.

"Another judge that has no connections with this town said, ‘This guy needs a hearing on it," Krause said. "So, that was good news."

It is the result of work done by the Arizona Innocence Project at Northern Arizona University.

The Innocence Project took a closer look at each piece of the evidence and discounted it.

A large part of the 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.

But now the FBI discredits this type of evidence.

They also looked at the angle of the bullet Krause was supposed to have fired from his rifle and concluded there was no possible way it came from where Krause says he was.

Click here to read the full details of the original investigation, including possible scenarios from the Innocence Project on where the fatal shot came from.

The evidentiary hearing is set for June 17, 2013 in Yavapai County. It will be heard by the visiting Mohave County judge.

Krause said he knows in his heart that he did not kill the teen. He has already served his prison sentence, but Krause still wants his name cleared -- not for him, but for his son.

"Freedom, that's a rough thing to lose," Krause said. "A lot of people don't understand that."

Krause said the hardest part of his ordeal was losing time with his son, Justin.

Justin was nine when his father went to prison. He remembers a great deal.

"I remember the last day I got to see him," he said. "I was in fourth grade. My mom came to my school and picked me up and said, 'We have to tell your teacher a little white lie."

Today, father and son spend as much time as they can together. They even work together at Krause's auto repair shop in Prescott.

Justin said his father acts like he has to make up for the time they didn't have together.

"I am not going to say no, because I lost it too," he said.  "Whatever we can have from this point forward is awesome."

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