Sherburne County Sheriff Joel Brott has received information that Innocence Project of Minnesota has closed its case with Kent Richard Jones.
Jones was twice convicted of the 1992 murder of Linda Jensen before petitioning Project Innocence to review the matter.
Sherburne County deputies had been dispatched to the Linda Jensen residence on Feb. 24, 1992 in rural Sherburne County after receiving a 911 call from Jensen’s husband. Jensen’s husband found Linda’s body after returning home from work. An infant present in the home at the time of the murder was found unharmed.
In March of 2000, the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA) Cold Case Unit and Sherburne County Sheriff’s Office investigators began working together to solve the homicide of Linda Jensen. In June of 2000, investigators received a tip from an acquaintance of Jones.
The tip started the process for getting a search warrant to obtain a DNA sample from Jones. Jones’ DNA sample was obtained pursuant to a court order and submitted to the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension laboratory for analysis. Jones’ DNA profile matched the profile of the DNA recovered from Jensen’s body during autopsy. Jones lived near the Jensen home at the time of the murder.
On July 25, 2000, Jones was charged with the murder of Linda Jensen. On May 31, 2001, a Sherburne County grand jury indictment was filed charging Jones with first-degree homicide while committing criminal sexual conduct, murder in the second degree and first-degree criminal sexual conduct causing personal injury.
A jury convicted Jones of all of the above charges on Dec. 8, 2001. Jones was sentenced to life in prison that same date.
Then on March 11, 2004, the Minnesota Supreme Court reversed the conviction finding the district court erred when it used the clear and convincing standard to assess the admissibility of Jones’ proffered alternative perpetrator evidence.
At the request of Sherburne County Attorney Kathleen Heaney, William Klumpp of the Minnesota Attorney General’s Office took over the prosecution of Jones for the second trial.
On Nov. 30, 2006, Jones was again convicted by a jury for each of the above described offenses and was sentenced to life in prison that same date. The Supreme Court upheld that conviction in an order released on July 31, 2008.
Jones is currently incarcerated at the Minnesota Correctional Facility in Stillwater. He is eligible for release on July 21, 2030.
In January of 2011, Klumpp received notice from Innocence Project of Minnesota that they were investigating the case against Jones and intended to test or retest all biological evidence at another forensic laboratory, Bode Technology Inc. Numerous items were sent to Bode Technology for further testing. A June 2012 Bode Technology report indicated they found another sample suitable for nuclear DNA testing. A DNA profile was obtained from a sperm fraction found on a pubic hair that matched Jones’ DNA profile.
According to Bode Technology, the probability of selecting a random unrelated individual with this DNA profile was one in 1.9 trillion in the U.S. Caucasian population, one in 7.1 trillion in the U.S. African American population, and one in 2.5 trillion in the U.S. Hispanic population.
Tenth Judical District Court Judge Alan Pendleton denied Jones’ motion to retest the knife used to kill Jensen. The court found Jones failed to establish a prima facie case that the knife was subject to a chain of custody sufficient to establish that it had not been altered in any material way as required by statute.
Due to previous fingerprint testing and analysis and the risk of contamination, Pendleton determined any result would be inherently unreliable and would not result in materially relevant evidence
In a letter dated Oct. 18, Innocence Project informed Klumpp they were closing their case with Jones.