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A Pennsylvania disc jockey who confessed to the 1992 slaying of an elementary teacher two years ago is now attempting to withdraw his guilty plea.
Raymond Charles Rowe, 52, told a Lancaster County court he’s innocent on Thursday in the brutal murder of Christy Mirack.
Mirack was found beaten, choked, and raped in her East Lampeter Township home on Dec. 21, 1992. She worked as a sixth-grade teacher in Harrisburg. The Lancaster County woman was 25 at the time of her death.
The case quickly went cold, but Rowe, a disc jockey who performed under the pseudonym “DJ Freez,” confessed to Mirack’s murder in January 2019. He was arrested a year earlier after detectives linked his DNA found on chewing gum and a water bottle he’d discarded during a gig he’d played at an elementary school.
Rowe was ultimately identified by law enforcement after his half-sister, who lived nearby where Mirack, was killed. She'd uploaded her DNA to an online genealogy database.
“He has told us that he did it,” Patricia Spotts, Rowe’s defense attorney in 2019, told the court at a hearing that year. “The person standing beside me has admitted his guilt.”
At the time, Rowe didn’t contest his guilt and was sentenced to life behind bars on murder, rape, and other charges, including an additional 60 to 120 years.
"I'm sorry, sir, to the family," Rowe, then 50, told Mirack's family after pleading guilty. "I can't imagine what you're going through."
On Thursday, Rowe told prosecutors and Lancaster County Judge Dennis Reinaker he’d lied when he pleaded guilty more than two and a half years ago, WGAL-TV reported.
“So we're supposed to believe a liar?” Assistant District Attorney Ande Gonzales asked him in court, according to LancasterOnline.
Rowe responded by telling prosecutors, “Free will and being forced to do things by treatment and threats are two different things.”
Rowe, who met Mirack at a Lancaster bar, now claims he had a consensual sexual relationship with the school teacher. He admitted to having sex with Mirack hours before she was murdered but denied taking any part in her killing.
Rowe also asked the judge for further DNA testing in the case, including on key pieces of evidence, such as the cutting board Mirack was bludgeoned with, a toaster, and the educator’s sweater, according to WGAL.
He also claimed his past public defenders were ineffective. The pair of defense attorneys in question aren’t employed by the public defender’s office anymore but are scheduled to appear in court next month, according to Penn Live.
Rowe has since retained a Philadelphia-based appellate lawyer, Todd Mosser, who wasn’t immediately available for comment when contacted by Oxygen.com on Monday. Lancaster County District Attorney Heather Adam, also declined to comment on the pending case.
Rowe is scheduled to appear back in court on Sept. 2.
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