KECI

Montana man exonerated after 18 years in prison for murder

MISSOULA, Mont. - A judge has dismissed all charges against a Trout Creek man who spent 18 years in prison for the killing of his best friend in 1997.

Richard Raugust said during a news conference on Thursday that he's "finally back as a free member of society."

Raugust was convicted of deliberate homicide and sentenced to life in prison for the shooting death of Joseph Tash in a camp trailer near Trout Creek.

District Judge James Wheelis overturned the conviction last year after finding that prosecutors withheld evidence that might have led to a different verdict.

On Wednesday, the Sanders County attorney filed a motion to drop the charges against Raugust.

Montana Innocence Project Legal Director Larry Mansch says Wheelis signed an order that prevents prosecutors from re-charging Raugust.


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