ST. LOUIS -- Rodney Lincoln has been in prison for more than 30 years, convicted of murder. He's always maintained he didn't do it. Now thanks in part to Crime Watch Daily's exclusive investigation into the case, Lincoln has a real chance to become a free man.

Lincoln, convicted of the 1982 murder of St. Louis woman JoAnn Tate, had his case heard in court on March 17 and 18 for a judge to review his conviction.

Currently, the options for Lincoln are:

  • He could be released and exonerated.
  • He could be released on bond pending a new trial.
  • Or the proposed findings will be denied, which he will appeal.

JoAnn Tate was found murdered in her apartment in St. Louis on April 27, 1982. She was stabbed and sexually assaulted. Daughters Melissa, 7, and Renee, 4, were found with JoAnn. Melissa was stabbed 10 times; Renee had her throat cut. Both girls survived. Melissa identified Lincoln as the attacker from photo and live line-ups.

After a Crime Watch Daily investigation of the case aired in November 2015, Tate's surviving daughter, Melissa DeBoer, recanted her testimony against Lincoln and declared another man named Tommy Lynn Sells was the culprit in the crime. Sells was in prison since 1999 for other murders, and was executed in 2014.

DeBoer met with the St. Louis Prosecuting Attorney's Office on Dec. 4, 2015. Three days later DeBoer visited Lincoln in prison to deliver the news directly to him and ask him face-to-face for his forgiveness. "I have nothing to forgive you for," Lincoln tells her. "You are completely blameless. I thank you for your courage, but you only have my love, not any anger from me. I'm so sorry for you, and for losing your mom."

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Supporters urge those concerned to write a letter, make a phone call, submit an email or send a tweet to Missouri Governor Jay Nixon to express support for Rodney Lincoln. Governor Nixon leaves office on January 8, 2017.

Governor Nixon's contact information: