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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- An Arizona man has been acquitted on charges he killed a teenage girl 21 years ago.
Dan L. Petersen, 44, of Glendale had been charged with first-degree murder in the stabbing death of 14-year-old Tiffany Hambleton. Her body was found March 31, 1986, in a ditch near Salt Lake City International Airport. She had been missing six weeks.
Petersen had admitted during police interviews that he met Tiffany at a Kiss concert the night of Feb. 17, 1986, and invited her and her friends to a party at his older brother's apartment.
During the trial, he said he had had sex with the girl, something he'd denied when questioned by police.
DNA tests years after Tiffany's body was found linked her to Petersen. Lab tests showed she had matching cells on her fingernails and semen stains on her body. Petersen was arrested in January.
Police have never been able to say exactly when or where Tiffany was killed.
A 3rd District Court jury acquitted Petersen after more than four hours of deliberation Thursday.
Petersen smiled slightly at his mother, Beverly Parker. "I love you," he said to her as bailiffs escorted him from the courtroom. "I love you, too," Parker answered.
Tiffany's mother, Vicki English, said the verdict shocked her. "Justice was not served today," she said.
Before becoming mayor, Rocky Anderson, a lawyer, took on the case for free. In 2003, Detective Cordon Parks reopened the case at Anderson's urging.
"We had always worked very hard to see that justice was done and answers were provided," Anderson said. "I think the family certainly has some of the answers they were looking for, but justice wasn't done."
Information from: The Salt Lake Tribune
(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)