CHARLESTON \u2014 A Preston County man convicted of rape and kidnapping in 1987 will remain behind bars following a State Supreme Court ruling upholding a Preston Court decision to deny his most recent attempt to be freed.\r\n\r\nRussell Sayers Jr. is serving life plus 30-50 years at Mount Olive Correctional Complex for four counts of first degree sexual assault, one count of first degree sexual abuse and one count of kidnapping a child.\r\n\r\nThe Supreme Court said on Friday in a memorandum decision that Preston Circuit Judge Lawrance Miller, in December 2016, correctly ruled against Sayers\u2019 two contentions: that his original trial attorney was ineffective, and that DNA evidence presented to the court in 2010 proved his innocence.\r\n\r\nSayers\u2019 attorney said Tuesday via an email exchange he preferred to decline comment, pending discussion of the ruling with his client.\r\n\r\nThe Supreme Court\u2019s case summary and reports from The Dominion Post archives show that in 1987, Sayers and an accomplice forced a 15-year-old girl into a car at knifepoint at the Dorsey Avenue Dairy Mart, took her to an abandoned home near Kingwood, repeatedly raped her, then returned her to a spot in Morgantown about 15 miles from her home.\r\n\r\nSayers, 22 at the time, argued unsuccessfully that the girl joined them voluntarily to \u201cparty.\u201d A physician testified that the girl had been assaulted orally, vaginally and rectally, that her hymen had been broken and there was evidence of bleeding.\r\n\r\nFormer State Police crime lab analyst Fred Zain \u2013 who died in 2002 and who was accused of fabricating evidence in more than 100 cases, leading to a number of rape and murder convictions being overturned \u2013 testified at the time that blood on the girl\u2019s jeans, jacket and underwear was hers, not Sayers\u2019.\r\n\r\nFollowing his conviction, Sayers failed in four attempts to have it overturned. His fifth attempt, the Supreme Court\u2019s decision recounts, began in 2010. Sayers alleged that his trial counsel failed to convey to him a plea deal that would have freed him after 30 years. He also alleged that counsel failed to request DNA evidence and highlight Zain\u2019s testimony in his favor.\r\n\r\nThe process for his fifth attempt concluded in December 2016. One of the DNA tests, Miller said in his ruling, showed that Sayers\u2019 semen was present on the crotch of the victim\u2019s jean. \u201cAccordingly \u2026 rather than exonerating Petitioner Sayers, or even casting doubt on whether he engaged in sexual relations with the victim, it lends support for the state\u2019s theory that [Sayers and his accomplice] engaged in sexual activity with the victim.\u201d\r\nMiller continued, \u201cFormer-Trooper Zain\u2019s testimony at trial \u2014 which is clearly wrong in light of the DNA testing \u2014 did not harm Petitioner Sayers. \u2026. Zain\u2019s testimony, although erroneous, was favorable to Petitioner Sayers.\u201d\r\nSayers appealed Miller\u2019s ruling to the Supreme Court in January 2017. The Supreme Court found no error in Miller\u2019s evaluation of the DNA evidence.\r\n\r\nThe Supreme Court also found that Sayer\u2019s contention about ineffective trial counsel and the supposedly bungled plea deal had already been adequately addressed and rejected in previous court proceeds, and was therefore without merit. The prosecutor at the time had in fact offered a plea deal of a minimum 30 years, which Sayers rejected, believing he would receive a lesser sentence at trial.\r\n\r\nSayers can only be reached by mail and could not be contacted in time for this report. He wrote two previous letters to The Dominion Post, prior to his September 2016 hearing, asserting he was wrongly convicted based on Zain\u2019s testimony.