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Retrial of 7 men for 1984 murder begins

Monday - 4/23/2012, 6:21pm  ET

Mark Segraves, wtop.com

WASHINGTON - Seven men convicted of a brutal murder and rape 27 years ago are back in a D.C. courtroom today, hoping to have their convictions overturned after several of the original trial witnesses recanted their testimony.

A D.C. superior court judge will decide the fate of the men. Many of the men convicted are still behind bars. But they say prosecutors forced some witnesses to lie and coerced confessions from others.

One of those men who confessed said his confession was beaten out of him by police. His attorney says Clifton Yarborough, who was 16 at the time, has an IQ of 69 and was not competent enough to confess to anything.

Attorneys also point to evidence that two other suspects may have committed the murder, but that evidence was never given to defense attorneys as required by law.

Since this is not a new trial, there is no jury. A judge will hear from all of the original witnesses and decide whether there's enough evidence to set the men free.

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(Copyright 2012 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)