Rape case inmate can seek DNA test

JEFFERSON CITY | A Platte County man serving a life sentence plus 430 years in the kidnapping-rape of a teenaged neighbor two decades ago was granted a second chance Tuesday by the state Supreme Court to make his case for DNA testing.

Randy Belcher, now 56, pleaded guilty to the September 1987 rape of a 14-year-old girl who lived next door to him at the Bean Lake community.

According to court records and an interview with the victim: Belcher trapped the girl in his cottage by asking her to help him with a plumbing repair. After his father, Robert Belcher, arrived, they took her to a motel where she was raped.

The men then tried to kill her, using a stun gun, hitting her with a pipe, pushing her into the Missouri River and then shooting at her.

“She was just meant to live,” one Platte County sheriff’s official said then.

A 2001 Missouri law created a process for prisoners to seek forensic DNA testing to try to prove their innocence. Inmates, however, have to show that the evidence was not previously tested for DNA, that the suspect’s identity was an issue at the trial and that there is a reasonable probability they would not have been convicted with favorable DNA results.

Belcher cited that law in May 2006 while seeking DNA tests on clothing, bedding materials and other crime scene evidence.

Livingston County Circuit Judge Stephen Griffin denied the request in 2007, ruling that “the entire file and records of the case conclusively show that (Belcher) is not entitled to relief.” Griffin since has retired.

The ruling Tuesday found that the judge had not followed the law appropriately justifying the decision.

Belcher’s father also received a long Missouri prison sentence, as well as a life term in Texas for trying to hire someone to kill the girl and her mother.