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Prosecutors: new evidence in 1993 cold case murder

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Attorney Steven Meshbesher addresses reporters as Jerry Westrom stands by.
Attorney Steven Meshbesher addresses reporters as his client Jerry Westrom stands close by following a hearing in March 2019.
Brandt Williams | MPR News file

Hennepin County prosecutors say new evidence links an Isanti man to a 1993 Minneapolis murder.

Jerry Arnold Westrom
Jerry Arnold Westrom
Courtesy of Hennepin County Sheriff's Office

Jerry Westrom, 52, is charged with second-degree murder in the stabbing death of Jeanne Ann Childs, 35, in an apartment on Pillsbury Avenue South in Minneapolis. Assistant Hennepin County Attorney Michael Radmer said a barefoot print made in the blood of Childs matches that of Westrom.

However, Westrom's attorney Steve Meshbesher said footprint and fingerprint evidence is not reliable. And he reiterated that his client is not the person who stabbed Childs to death in her apartment nearly 26 years ago.

Meshbesher said there's evidence that other men were in that apartment.

"There are a lot of things — I'm not going to tell you what those things are — that do not match up to Jerry Westrom," said Meshbesher. "It's not him. It's somebody else."

Westrom appeared in court on Friday to ask permission to travel out of state in May to attend graduation ceremonies for two of his nieces.

"The state does feel he is a flight risk," said Radmer, referring to the new evidence. "He is a risk to the public."

Judge Martha Holton Dimick denied the request. She said this case is extremely serious and told Westrom the last thing he should be concerned about right now is his nieces' graduations.

Prosecutors allege Westrom's DNA was found in evidence collected from the crime scene. According to the criminal complaint, investigators sent those samples to a genealogy website in 2018, which helped them identify Westrom as a suspect. Authorities say the crime scene DNA also matched samples taken from a napkin that Westrom discarded at a hockey game earlier this year and a sample taken from Westrom after his arrest.

Meshbesher has said the evidence is thin. He noted that Childs, according to the criminal complaint, had worked as a prostitute, and that DNA collected at the crime scene came from sperm.

Westrom's next court appearance is scheduled for June 6.