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Sunday, July 12, 2009

Federal lawsuit reopens professor's murder investigation

The day before the 2004 election, Professor Morgan Lewis was found shot to death outside his office building, Seymour Hall, on the Northern State University campus. Eventually, the Aberdeen Police Depaartment, which was in a state of turmoil at the time, issued a determination that the death was a suicide. However, many people who had knowledge of the circumstances and the evidence found discrepancies which put the suicide determination into doubt.

A federal court suit has been filed on the case which will effectively reopen the case. Beneficiaries of insurance policies taken out by Prof. Lewis have been denied claims on the basis of the suicide determination. They are challenging the decision in court. The story is carried in today's Argus Leader.

When the Police Department termed the death a suicide, it refused to reveal the evidence gathered in the case. The coroner initially termed the death a homicide, but later changed the cause of death. The holding of the investigative materials confidential was a source of frustration to many people who had been informed of evidence that conflicted with the suicide theory.

The federal court case may do what inadequate open government and sunshine laws have failed to do: give the case a real examination of evidence.

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Aberdeen, South Dakota, United States