The Nebraska Supreme Court ruled Friday that a new DNA test can be conducted in the case of a man convicted of raping two sisters nearly 39 years ago.
Tracy Hightower-Henne, an attorney for Juneal Pratt, who was found guilty of the crime, said Friday that her client is “cautiously excited, which is more excited than I've heard him in a long time.”
The Nebraska Attorney General's Office, which argued for the state, could not be reached for comment.
The ruling overturns an earlier district court ruling denying a new test. Hightower-Henne had argued that new DNA technology could prove that Pratt was wrongly convicted, and that earlier evidence had been contaminated.
Pratt obtained a DNA test in 2005, but it was deemed inconclusive.
In 2010, Pratt filed a request to retest the clothing, citing the development of better DNA tests. But Douglas County District Judge Russell Bowie denied the request, citing the ruling on evidence storage.
Pratt, 58, has maintained his innocence since a jury convicted him of raping the Sioux City, Iowa, women at an Omaha motel in August 1975. He was sentenced to 32 to 90 years in prison.
Pratt says he was wrongly identified and that another man, a convicted serial rapist, is guilty. But one victim testified that she was 100 percent sure he was the assailant.
Pratt was arrested a week later at the motel where the assault occurred, after he tried to steal a woman's purse.