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Ex-Prisoner Seeks Exoneration

Former policewoman who served time for murder and fled jail awaits DNA test results.

November 28, 2002|From Associated Press

MILWAUKEE — Former Police Officer Laurie Bembenek, who fled to Canada more than a decade ago while serving time for killing her husband's ex-wife, will soon know whether DNA testing proves her innocence, her attorney said.

A hearing is scheduled Dec. 16 for Bembenek, who has always maintained innocence in the May 1981 death of Christine Schultz, attorney Mary L. Woehrer said.

Bembenek was convicted of murder in 1982 and sentenced to life in prison. She escaped from prison in 1990 by crawling out a window but was captured months later in Ontario, where she was working as a waitress.

She sought asylum in Canada, but reached a deal with prosecutors in 1992 in which she pleaded no contest to second-degree murder and was immediately released.

Her highly publicized story was made into a book and a TV movie starring Tatum O'Neal, "Woman on the Run: The Lawrencia Bembenek Story."

In August, after the former Milwaukee officer completed a 10-year probation, she asked the court for DNA testing of items including a sexual assault evidence kit, fingernail clippings with blood on them, sheets and blankets, two guns, a bullet retrieved from Schultz's body and the clothing Schultz was wearing when she was killed.

A judge granted Bembenek's request last month. Results had been expected by Wednesday, but the lab said that it needed a few more weeks.

The "Dr. Phil" television show agreed to pay for the tests in exchange for Bembenek's appearance on the show.

Bembenek charged that police colleagues framed her because she was assisting a federal investigation into corruption and sex discrimination in the Milwaukee department.

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