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Attorneys in a decades-old child rape case revived by DNA evidence will present oral arguments before the Montana Supreme Court in April.

The case involving Ronald Dwight Tipton is set to be heard in Bozeman on April 18. The 10:30 a.m. hearing will be in the Strand Union Building, Ballroom A, at Montana State University.

Tipton is accused of raping an 8-year-old in her Billings home in 1987. Tipton was charged in 2015 with three counts of sexual intercourse without consent.

A different man, Jimmy Ray Bromgard, was convicted of the crime in 1987, and served 15 years in prison before being exonerated by DNA evidence.

Tipton did not surface as the new suspect until 2014 when DNA samples he gave as part of a drug possession charge in Meagher County made a hit on the rape evidence entered in a DNA database.

Tipton sought to have the case dismissed, based on the statute of limitations.

Prosecutors argued the timing of DNA evidence in the case presents a unique test to state and federal criminal justice laws, and that the case needs to be tried.

District Court Judge Mary Jane Knisely set the case for trial, and Tipton appealed to the Supreme Court to have it dismissed. Both sides have submitted written arguments.

The case will be heard by all Montana Supreme Court justices, except for Justice Mike McGrath, who has recused himself. McGrath had commented on the case as attorney general back in 2007. 

Gallatin County District Court Judge Rienne McElyea will participate in McGrath’s place.


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