In 1988, a 22-year-old Montville woman was found strangled in the home she shared with her husband. Loreli Rasmussen’s throat was slashed and a wooden stake was in her chest.
Her husband, a dog groomer named Erik Rasmussen, was arrested and convicted in 1999. He has insisted he is innocent and wrote the book, “Justice Denied: The Trial of Erik Rasmussen,” where he claims that police and prosecutors overlooked evidence.
On Monday, lawyers with the Connecticut Innocence Project went to New London Superior Court to gather evidence in the case of the now 44-year-old Erik Rasmussen.
The Innocence Project, which looks into old cases to see if there are any wrongful rape, murder or manslaughter convictions, has helped exonerate three people in Connecticut.
Erik Rasmussen’s case would be the first one re-examined with financial help from a nearly $1.5 million federal grant awarded to the Connecticut Innocence project, the State’s Attorney’s office and the state forensic science lab, the Norwich Bulletin reports.
“What we’re doing is looking at old cases where the defendants claim they are innocent,” Connecticut Innocence Project Director Karen Goodrow told the Bulletin. “In this case, there was no DNA testing done.”
She told the newspaper than 200 inmates have expressed interest in the program.
The three men who were exonerated with help from the Innocence Project include Kenneth Ireland, who was released from prison in 2009, after serving 19 years for a murder of a 30-year-old mother of four found in a factory. The Innocence Project got involved and showed DNA that he did not commit the murder.
Miguel Roman was released from prison after almost 20 years when DNA showed he was not the person who killed his 17-year-old pregnant girlfriend in 1988.
James Tillman was released from prison in June 2006 after serving 12 years. He was convicted based mostly on eyewitness misidentification and DNA testing was not advanced enough to give a conclusive result, according to the Innocence Project.