DNA evidence leads Fla. Supreme Court to toss death row inmate's sentence

Paul C. Hildwin had been sentenced to die for strangling woman in 1985

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Paul C. Hildwin was sentenced to die for killing Vronzettie Cox, whose body was found stuffed in the trunk of a car parked in some Hernando County woods in 1985.

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - The Florida Supreme Court is throwing out the conviction of a death row inmate after new DNA evidence raised questions about whether he murdered a woman nearly 30 years ago.

A divided court Thursday overturned the conviction and death sentence imposed on Paul C. Hildwin.

Hildwin had been sentenced to die for killing Vronzettie Cox, whose nude body was found stuffed in the trunk of a car parked in some Hernando County woods in September 1985. The 42-year-old woman had been strangled with a T-shirt.

Prosecutors in 1986 contended DNA found at the crime scene matched blood characteristics of Hildwin. But recent tests show the DNA belonged to Cox's boyfriend.

A majority of the court said this "completely discredits" the scientific evidence used by prosecutors at trial.

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