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‘We Were Hoping for a Different Outcome’: Minnesota Prosecutor Bemoans Man’s Acquittal Despite DNA Evidence in Cold Case Murder Trial

Annette Seymour appears in a photo provided by police

Annette Seymour

A cold case homicide will remain unsolved as the man police accused of the crime was acquitted by Minnesota jurors earlier this week.

Annette Gail Seymour was 38 years old when she was stabbed to death during the early morning hours in early July 1992. A citizen happened upon the deceased woman’s mutilated body one morning and then contacted police, according to Saint Paul ABC affiliate KSTP.

Wearing only a T-shirt, the victim was found near an old street car tunnel underneath a church. She suffered 11 stab wounds to her neck, chest, back and arms. An autopsy showed she died from blood loss.

The acquitted man is 67-year-old John Robert Capers. He was arrested in December 2019 on the basis of DNA evidence. Despite that alleged genetic link to the scene of the crime, the Ramsey County Attorney’s Office failed to sell their case to jurors beyond a reasonable doubt.

“While we were hoping for a different outcome, we respect the jury’s decision,” the prosecutor’s office told the TV station. “Our hearts go out to the victim’s family and friends. We appreciate the hard work that went into bringing this cold case to trial, specifically the Saint Paul Police Department and our prosecution team.”

Ramsey County Attorney John Choi spoke about the case years ago just after the arrest was first made and charges were filed.

“We never forget about any of these unsolved crimes,” he said. “In fact, it’s one of the hardest things to do, to meet with victims and hear from families about how much they miss their loved ones. Sometimes we just don’t have enough evidence to make a decision but we never stop pushing towards that end goal.”

According to the Associated Press, the Seymour case went cold for years until 2009 when the state’s Bureau of Criminal Apprehension re-tested a semen stain and came up with a match for Capers.

A second DNA sample in 2011 allegedly confirmed that match.

The first sample came from Seymour’s shirt, investigators said, while the second sample was obtained from the accused himself. Over the next few years, investigators tried to firm up their case.

“It’s always great to be able to bring someone to justice, especially when the wait has been so long,” Choi told Minneapolis NBC affiliate KARE in 2019. “To review a cold case, you have to go really deep. You have to review everything that is in that file and you need to sit on it for awhile and think about it . . . in this particular case, our prosecutor had been kind of thinking about this and looking at the evidence and asking investigators to follow up for about a year.”

The original investigation cited a witness, another resident of the apartment where Seymour lived, who claimed the soon-to-be-deceased woman was loudly arguing with her husband during the hours immediately after-midnight on the day she died.

James Fletcher, the husband, was reportedly questioned and described a relationship that was tumultuous due to his wife’s drinking. At the time of her death, she had an extremely high blood-alcohol content. Fletcher told police he didn’t live with Seymour but stayed at her place sometimes – including the weekend before she died. After a series of fights on the night before her death, he said, he spent the night with a friend and his wife who lived nearby. Fletcher died in 2008.

Capers, who was shown a picture of Seymour when he was arrested for her murder, consistently maintained his innocence and said he had no idea who the victim was.

Aside from the DNA, prosecutors reportedly never alleged any real connection between the defendant and the victim.

[image via Ramsey County Attorney’s Office]

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