HELENA- Montana Attorney General Tim Fox is asking the U.S. Supreme Court permission to prosecute a suspect linked by DNA evidence to a 1987 rape of an 8-year-old girl in Billings.
Fox said in a Wednesday news release that his office filed a motion with the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn a 2003 Montana law that forbids filing rape charges after the statute of limitations has expired.
In July, the Montana Supreme Court ruled that Ronald Tipton could not be tried for the rape of the girl at her Billings home in 1987. Another man, Jimmy Bromgard, was tried and convicted for the crime, but he was released in 2002 after DNA evidence surfaced to exonerate him.
In 2014, authorities said DNA taken from Tipton following a Meagher County arrest on drug charges matched DNA from the old rape.
“This is an example of the law catching up to science,” Fox said in a statement. “We have DNA evidence that conclusively identifies the suspect in a heinous crime, and justice demands that he be brought to trial. I have met with the victim and am pleased that she supports our efforts. A victory at the U.S. Supreme Court will not only allow us to bring justice and closure for her, but will help achieve similar results throughout the country as perpetrators are conclusively identified through breakthroughs in DNA science.”
Fox’s office had indicated in August that it was planning to file the order with the U.S. Supreme Court by the deadline today.
Tipton is not in custody. His attorney, Rob Stephens of Billings, was out of the office Wednesday and not immediately available for comment.