A Hennepin County jury Wednesday acquitted a 50-year-old man of murder charges stemming from a woman's strangulation 18 years ago in Minneapolis.
The jury found Preston Arnold not guilty of both first- and second-degree murder in the death of 35-year-old Gloria "Glora" Dean Clay. Her nude and partially frozen body was found March 19, 1993, on railroad tracks near 4056 Washington Av. N.
Arnold was arrested and charged with second-degree murder in April 2010 after his DNA was found to match samples taken from Clay's body.
Clay was strangled, the Hennepin County medical examiner's officer ruled at the time of her death. Authorities also suspected she'd been sexually assaulted, so biological samples were taken during the autopsy for potential DNA testing later.
Homicide cold-case investigators, knowing that certain evidence is retained when a victim fights or struggles with a suspect, turned to Clay's fingernails for the DNA match.
In May 2009, the samples were submitted to the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension for testing. Results came back with a DNA profile matching Arnold, whose DNA is part of the state's convicted offender database, according to the criminal complaint filed in Hennepin County District Court.
The jury deliberated for two days after a trial that lasted about a week.
Arnold's attorney, public defender Paula Brummel, declined to speculate on why the jury came to its verdict, but applauded the decision.
"This was one of the most intelligent juries I have ever seen, and they came to the only verdict possible in this case," she said. "They made the right decision."
Chuck Laszewski, spokesman for the Hennepin County Attorney's Office, said the office respects but disagrees with the verdict.
Although he was acquitted, Arnold will remain in the Hennepin County Jail. He is charged with first- and second-degree criminal sexual conduct in two separate cold cases from 2003 and 1992. Charges in those cases also resulted from DNA matches. His bail is set at $600,000.
Hopefully the prosecutors will find smarter jurors in the other two rape cases Preston Arnold's semen magically appeared in.
Crime - the media loves it, people fear it, and criminals get away with it!
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