Florida Prosecutors Seek to Exonerate Serial Rapist From 1983 Murder of 20-Year-Old Student

Florida prosecutors believe a since-deceased serial rapist was wrongfully convicted of a 1983 slaying, arguing that new DNA evidence and a confession prove the real murderer is actually an executed Arkansas serial killer. The Broward State Attorney’s Office filed court documents on Thursday asking a judge to dismiss Ronald Stewart’s 1985 conviction for the rape and murder of 20-year-old college student Regina Harrison, who was found naked and strangled in Hollywood, Florida, on May 2, 1983. Prosecutors believe the real killer was Jack Jones, who was executed in 2017 for an Arkansas murder. “We do not know why Jones chose to confess to the murders of Barrett and Phillips while he was alive but delayed the release of his confession to the Harrison murder until after his execution,” prosecutors said in a press release. “Jones left South Florida shortly after the Harrison murder and returned to his native Ohio. He later returned to South Florida and murdered Barrett. Later still, he murdered Phillips in Arkansas.”

Stewart was arrested in 1983 for multiple rapes in the Fort Lauderdale area, to which he pleaded guilty to three. At the same time, Stewart pleaded no-contest to second-degree murder for Harrison and was sentenced to 50 years. He died in prison in 2008.