TRAVERSE CITY — A lawyer with a history of representing murder suspects will defend Jason Anthony Ryan, the man suspected of the 1996 rape and murder of Geraldine Montgomery.
Jodi Hemingway specializes in criminal defense and family law. Kalkaska Judge Lynne Buday recently signed papers that allowed Hemingway to take over the case from the court appointed attorney Kyle Trevas.
“I’m confident Mr. Ryan was correctly excluded as a suspect in 1997,” said Hemingway, who normally works in Genesee County, where Ryan lived.
Ryan was arrested and charged with the crime after DNA found at the scene was retested and matched to him.
The Innocence Project, a group that tries to exonerate convicted criminals based on DNA evidence, pushed investigators to test the nearly two decades old specimens in order to prove their client, Jamie Lee Peterson, was falsely imprisoned for the crime in 1998.
Hemingway said her client did not know Peterson.
“There’s absolutely no connection to my knowledge,” she said. “I don’t believe they knew each other.”
Hemingway said Ryan was residing with his father, who lives in Kalkaska, at the time of the crime.
Hemingway previously represented Juwan Wickware, a Flint teenager who was the first juvenile in the state to be sentenced to life without parole. Wickware was convicted of fatally shooting a pizza deliver man when he was 16.