ST. PAUL, Minn. (KMSP) - Thomas Rhodes is serving a life sentence for the murder of his wife, Jane. He's always claimed her death was an accident.
At Rhodes’ trial 17 years ago, Ramsey County medical examiner Michael McGee used a clay model to show that Jane was beaten before falling off a boat and drowning.
Rhodes has two sons who both believe he's not guilty of killing their mother. The Minnesota Innocence Project is making a case for the Minnesota Supreme Court to release Rhodes from prison.
"What we know about the forensic pathology of drowning is very different from what we thought we understood when Jane Rhodes fell overboard,” David Schultz from the Minnesota Innocence Project said.
Nine forensic pathologists all agree the markings on Jane Rhodes’ face and neck, which Dr. McGee said were from a beating, were actually caused by the drowning process.
"It’s not just a battle of experts. The evidence is so overwhelming,” forensic pathologist Lindsey Thomas said.
The prosecution stands by Dr. McGee's findings.
"There's nothing the petitioner has submitted in this case to establish that the science underlying Dr. McGee's opinions is false, is wrong, has been disproved,” Mathew Frank said.
All of Rhodes’ siblings and his sons were in court showing their support for him. They believe an innocent man has been locked up for nearly two decades.
The Supreme Court has several options in this case. It can do nothing, which means Rhodes stays in prison. It can order the trial judge to review the new evidence or it can flat out decide to give him a new trial. Whatever the case, it likely will be months before a decision is made.