Carty said the witness didn't acknowledge anything beyond that he was in the same county at the time. An investigator had testified at trial that the witness' name was a typographical error in a report. It's not clear what the witness may have said had he ever testified, but they say proof that he exists supports their contention of perjury.

The daughter of the former police chief of the adjacent town of Oakland now says she believes Zeigler is innocent and may have been framed by her father and others. Robert Thompson was among the first officers on the scene the night of the slayings and drove Zeigler to the hospital.

Christine Cooper said her father died in 1999 "taking a lot of secrets with him."

Leigh McEachern, a former Orange County chief deputy, said that there was evidence the sheriff's office didn't process at the time because investigators assumed Zeigler was guilty. He said that enough new evidence has surfaced since then that he now believes Zeigler to be innocent.

Zeigler is heartened by the new attempts to prove his innocence, but at the same time he's gotten used to new supporters enthusiastically joining the effort only to go on their way when they find they can't get anything done for him.

"Every year," he said in the interview last month, "another piece of this puzzle comes together."

Zeigler's attorneys are now asking a judge to grant him a new trial based on a number of claims, including that prosecutors used false and misleading testimony and concealed evidence, and that the new evidence would likely produce his acquittal.

"Newly discovered evidence establishes that the State concealed material information from the defense in this case - a case based on circumstantial evidence and involved an initially deadlocked jury," said the motion, filed in state circuit court last week.

State attorney's office spokeswoman Danielle Tavernier declined to comment on the case except to say that prosecutors will fight the new motion in court.