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DNA links 1992 slaying of Ill. girl, 11, to another murder

Holly Staker

CBS Chicago

LAKE COUNTY, Ill. - A two-decade-old murder of an 11-year-old Illinois girl has been linked through DNA evidence to another slaying that took place nearly a decade later, reports CBS Chicago.

Holly Staker, 11, was raped and then stabbed to death while she was babysitting in Waukegan in 1992.

DNA from semen taken from Holly's body has recently been matched to DNA evidence from blood obtained from a two-by-four used to beat 39-year-old Delwin Foxworth in 2000, according to the station.

Foxworth was reportedly attacked by three robbers who invaded his Chicago home in January 2000. He was held at gunpoint, beat with a board and tied up before he was doused with gasoline and set on fire. The 39-year-old was able to extinguish the flames and seek help after the robbers fled, but later died in August 2002 as a result of injuries sustained in the attack, according to the Chicago Tribune.

Marvin Williford was the only man arrested in connection with Foxworth's murder and he was convicted in 2004. He is currently serving a sentence of 80 years in prison, reports the paper.

Williford has always maintained his innocence and, according to his attorney, no physical evidence ever connected him to the crime, reports the Tribune.

At a hearing Tuesday, Williford's attorney reportedly argued that his deserves a new trial based on the new DNA evidence, which he says proves that his client is innocent. The judge scheduled another hearing for next week.

The new development linking the two cases also helps prove that Juan Rivera, the man convicted and then freed three different times in the murder and rape of 11-year-old Holly Staker, was wrongfully accused, Rivera's attorney says, reports the paper.

"While Mr. Rivera fought to clear his name and officials fought to keep him in prison, the man who really committed the crime was free to commit this additional crime," Steven Art, one of Rivera's attorneys, reportedly said.

Rivera, who was largely convicted on a confession, which he says was forced, according to the Tribune, told CBS Chicago on Tuesday, "These are horrific crimes and both families deserve justice. Second, I sincerely wish that this newly disclosed DNA evidence had come to light a decade ago, before I served nearly 20 years in prison for a crime I did not commit."

Rivera has reportedly filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against authorities in Lake County.

The Lake County State Attorney's office, which prosecuted both Rivera and Williford, has a national reputation for locking up innocent men, according to the Chicago Tribune.

Despite the DNA match in the two cases, the identity of one potential suspect in both killings remains unknown.