TRAVERSE CITY — It’s been a year since authorities charged Jason Anthony Ryan, 36, with the 1996 rape and murder of a Kalkaska woman.
Now Ryan’s trial is scheduled to begin with jury selection in Kalkaska on Monday at 9 a.m. Forty-sixth Circuit Court Judge George Mertz will preside over the scheduled 10-day trial.
Authorities placed Ryan at the scene of the crime last year, when DNA evidence was retested and matched with his DNA.
Ryan faces two homicide charges –- one for an open count of murder and another for first-degree murder—and a first-degree criminal sexual conduct charge. He's accused in the rape and murder of Geraldine Montgomery, 68, a Kalkaska resident who died of asphyxiation after she was forced into the trunk of her car after the assault in 1996.
Jamie Lee Peterson, 40, originally was charged and convicted of the crime. But lawyers at the Michigan Innocence Clinic at the University of Michigan Law School and the Center on Wrongful Convictions at the Northwestern School of Law took up his case and had the crime scene DNA, which was too contaminated to test at the time of the original trial, retested with new technology. The DNA sample excluded Peterson and he was freed from jail in September.
But the DNA did match Ryan, a Davison man who was in Kalkaska at the time of Montgomery's death.
Police interviewed Ryan about the crime and took a sample of his DNA at the time, but Ryan passed a polygraph test and the sample was never tested, Peterson's lawyers said.
Ryan awaits trial at Kalkaska County's jail.