BATTLE CREEK, Mich. — Freedom has been assured for a woman who spent 17 years in prison for the fatal stabbing of a Battle Creek bartender.

The U.S. Supreme Court this week rejected an appeal from the state of Michigan in the case of Hattie Mae Tanner. It means that an appeals court decision throwing out Tanner’s murder conviction and life sentence will stand.

A bartender, Sharon Watson, was killed in the basement after closing Barney’s Bar in March 1995. Police believed it was part of a robbery.

A federal appeals court last year said a “rational jury” in Calhoun County should have found plenty of reasonable doubt at Tanner’s trial. The court noted that blood found on the victim’s clothing didn’t belong to Tanner.

Ohio attorney Ben Flowers says it was “an honor” to represent Tanner.

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