A judge ordered the release of a man and woman who have been in prison four years for a murder in which the "Happy Face Killer" has been convicted.
Laverne Pavlinac and John Sosnovske were released from prison two months after the real killer confessed. The pair were convicted in 1991 for the murder of Taujna Bennett, 23, of Portland.
Pavlinac confessed to the Bennett killing and implicated Sosnovske. But at her trial, she testified she made up the story in an attempt to escape an abusive relationship with Sosnovske. She was convicted after jurors heard her taped confession.
Pavlinac, now 62, was sentenced to life in prison for murder. Sosnovske, 42, pleaded no contest to murder to avoid the death penalty, and was also sentenced to life.
Keith Hunter Jesperson began claiming responsibility for the killing in letters, each adorned with a drawing of a smiling face, that he sent to news outlets.
Jesperson, who claims to have slain a total of eight women in five states, has said he alone killed Bennett, after the two met in a bar, she went home with him and they began arguing.
He was convicted of the murder last month after leading investigators to the victim's purse.
Marion County Circuit Judge Paul Lipscomb set aside Sosnovske's conviction and sentence, saying his civil rights had been violated because of Pavlinac's lies implicating him in the killing. The judge berated Pavlinac for concocting the accusations against Sosnovske and he refused to set aside her conviction and sentence. However, he ordered her released from prison, saying that serving a prison term for a crime one did not commit would amount to cruel and unusual punishment.