Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Larry and Danny Ranes: Serial Killers in the Same Family

Retrial

Marquette Branch Prison
Marquette Branch Prison

Ranes had plenty of time to do legal research in his prison cell in Marquette Branch Prison in Michigan's Upper Peninsula.  He argued that two convictions for the Howk murder constituted double jeopardy, so in 1979 Judge Donald Anderson canceled the second-degree murder conviction, and with it went one of Ranes' life sentences.  But Ranes was not done.

In 1981, the Supreme Court set aside the other conviction in the Howk case.  They ruled that the trial judge had failed to tell jurors they could consider second-degree murder as a possible verdict for the charge of murder while perpetrating rape.  That decision meant that the prosecution could either retry him on the same count or give him a sentence of second-degree murder, which carried the possibility of parole.  Two of his other three sentences did as well.  Only the Fearnow conviction assured that he would remain in prison for life.

The prosecutor believed that retrying such an old case would be difficult, since the primary evidence was testimony from a convicted murderer also serving a life sentence.  He opted to for the sentence.  They could only hope that Ranes could not think of a way to undo the Fearnow conviction.  Ranes continued to insist on his innocence and some researchers who went over the investigation began to side with him, criticizing the investigators for so readily believing Koster's story.

 

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