updated 12/6/2008 4:42:42 AM ET 2008-12-06T09:42:42

A registered sex offender was charged Friday with killing three Hartford girls in the 1980s, and a man who has served 20 years in prison for one of the deaths is seeking a new trial.

Pedro Miranda, 51, was arrested at his New Britain home and charged with multiple counts of murder stemming from a cold case investigation by state and local police and state prosecutors.

Miranda is charged with killing 16-year-old Rosa Valentin in 1986, 13-year-old Mayra Cruz in 1987, and 17-year-old Carmen Lopez in 1988.

He faces a possible death sentence if convicted of the killings, which prosecutors describe in a warrant as "sexually motivated homicides."

The Connecticut Innocence Project petitioned court officials this week for a new trial on behalf of Lopez's one-time boyfriend, Miguel Roman, who is serving a 60-year term in her death. The warrant for Miranda's arrest says new DNA tests from the scene exclude Roman, 52, who has been in prison since his arrest in June 1988.

Miranda, whose adult arrest record dates to 1977, is listed on the Connecticut Sex Offender Registry for a 1998 conviction for raping a 24-year-old woman in West Hartford.

Miranda will not face any sexual assault charges in the 1980s cases because the statute of limitations for the crimes has expired. But prosecutors say DNA evidence from two of the victims' bodies helped link Miranda to the killings.

Information was not immediately available Friday on whether Miranda had an attorney.

A jury convicted Roman in the Lopez death on circumstantial evidence and witness testimony, despite an FBI investigator's testimony that tests eliminated him as a suspect, according to an affidavit for Miranda's arrest warrant.

Karen Goodrow, an attorney and director of the Connecticut Innocence Project, said Friday she could not discuss details of Roman's case because their petition for a new trial was still pending.

"As usual, it's an honor to represent somebody in his position and he has been a lovely man to represent," she said of Roman.

DNA from the crime scenes and from Lopez's and Cruz's bodies was retested after the Connecticut Innocence Project and Connecticut Public Defender's Office pushed to reopen the Lopez investigation earlier this year.

Miranda was being held Friday on $7.5 million bond and is scheduled to appear in Hartford Superior Court on Monday.

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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