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(Greene Co. Sheriff’s Office)

(Springfield) (AP) – A Greene County judge has upheld a child rapist’s conviction and denied him a new trial.

The Springfield News-Leader reports that Jeffery Allen Dickson’s post-conviction appeal was rejected Tuesday. Dickson of Springfield is serving four consecutive life sentences for the 2008 kidnapping and rape of a 7-year-girl.

Prosecutors said he sexually assaulted the child and forced her to smoke drugs before setting a fire to cover up his crimes.

Dickson’s state-appointed public defender argued authorities overlooked a second house fire one block away from the purported crime scene. The fire’s location is significant because prosecutors argued that Dickson intentionally set the fire to cover up the assault.

The defense also argued that evidence unavailable at trial showed that one of Dickson’s DNA samples was tainted.

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