Jun 24, 1980 – Madison, WI
Charise Kamps is found dead in her
, she had been strangled, raped, and mutilated. Kamps had spent the evening together with friends, including Ralph and Steve Armstrong, drinking and doing drugs. Ralph Armstrong was charged with rape and murder. He was on parole at this time in New Mexico on a sodomy conviction and four rape convictions. Armstrong admits he was in Kamps' apartment, but he said he didn't kill her.
In 1981 Ralph Armstrong is found guilty and sentenced to life in prison plus 16 years starting a soap opera of denials, requests for a new trail, and claims of misconduct that would last for decades.
- At the trial Riccie Orebia, a cross-dresser said she lied about her testimony, which came after she had been hypnotized, then recanted her identification of Armstrong, and then recanted the recantation.
- 1993: A court of Appeals rules Armstrong is not entitled to a new trial even though a DNA test invalidates some of the evidence.
- 2001: Armstrong asked for a new trial based on new DNA evidence (Such testing was not available in 1981), his request is denied. Armstrong featured on an “America's Most Wanted” television special. Armstrong's attorney said DNA tests prove that hairs taken from a bathrobe belt of 19-year-old victim Charise Kamps did not belong to Ralph Armstrong.
- 2004: The State Court of Appeals declines to order a new trial for Armstrong.
- 2005: The State Supreme Court, in a 4-3 decision, overturns the conviction and orders a new trial for Armstrong.
- 2006: Retrial delayed until June because attorney, Jerome Buting, will be tied up with the murder trial of Steven Avery.
- 2008: Defense attorneys say that Armstrong’s brother confessed to the crime and that state prosecutors have withheld this information and that a state prosecutor knowingly destroyed DNA evidence that might have proved that it was Armstrong's brother, Steve, who killed Charise Kamps. Steve Armstrong is now dead, and his body was cremated. The type of test ordered by then-Assistant District Attorney John Norsetter, which used up the remainder of the DNA sample, could not have distinguished between Ralph and Steve Armstrong because they share a paternal relationship. Norsetter had that test performed in 2006 in violation of a court order. Two people, Fawn Cave and Debbie Holsomback, both of Texas, say that Steve Armstrong told them in 1994 or 1995 that he raped and murdered Kamps. According to the filing, Steve Armstrong described “in chilling detail” the “lengthy and brutal rape and murder” He also described “appallingly graphic details of his assault, including the use of a broomstick which ‘tore up her insides’” which are consistent with Kamps' murder. Both women said they tried to alert authorities, including the FBI. Holsomback said she spoke at length with a prosecutor in the Dane County district attorney's office who identified himself with the first name of John and said he was the one who originally prosecuted Ralph Armstrong.
Charise M. Kamps (19)
Ralph Armstrong (28)
July 31, 2009 – Madison, WI
Dane County Circuit Judge Robert Kinney ruled that harm done to Armstrong by misconduct by
prosecutors can't be fixed and the charges should be dropped. Murder charges against Armstrong
were thrown out. Prosecutors are considering an appeal, which will delay Armstrong's release from
prison. Armstrong also still faces charges on a separate crime in another state.