New DNA testing has proven the innocence of Colorado man Robert Dewey, who was wrongfully convicted for raping and killing Jacie Taylor in 1994. Dewey is expected to be released Tuesday after spending the last two decades behind bars.
Dewey was sentenced to life in prison in 1996 for raping and strangling 19-year-old Taylor with a dog leash. She was found dead in her bathtub on June 4, 1994.
A judge dismissed the charges against Dewey Monday after new DNA evidence revealed his innocence.
At the time of his trial, jurors were given conflicting evidence on Taylor's murder. Dewey's lawyer, Danyel Joffe, who has represented him for the last 11 years, did not believe the prosecution established guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, she said according to MSNBC.
The jury wanted to convict somebody, she said.
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His case was taken up last year by the Colorado Attorney General's Office's Justice Review Project, which reviews cases where DNA evidence could possible free someone wrongly convicted in rape, murder, and manslaughter cases. A grant of more than $1.2 million was awarded to the project. It is being used to review DNA evidence in 5,100 cases.
New DNA testing on a blood stain found at the crime scene singled out another culprit in the Jacie Taylor murder case.
An arrest warrant has been issued for Douglas Thames, who is already serving a life sentence for murdering a Fort Collins woman in 1989. Thames is being accused of first-degree murder and first-degree sexual assault, according to the arrest affidavit.
Thames' DNA was found in Taylor's apartment. At the time Thames denied knowing the victim but said that his girlfriend went to classes with Taylor at Palisade High School. Thames lived close by the victim in Colorado.
Today is about Mr. Dewey. Exonerating him and releasing him. We are also embarking on a new prosecution for Douglas Thames for this murder. There was not a link between Mr. Dewey and the new suspect, said Mesa County District Attorney Pete Hautzinger to Colorado's 9News.
Dewey's New Life As A Free Man: 'I Don't Understand What Texting Is'
The Associated Press reported that Dewey plans to kick back, ride his motorcycle and spend time with his family.
Contrary to popular belief, the world doesn't stop when you go to prison, said Dewey to the Associated Press. There's a lot for me to catch up on.
Rich Tuttle, the Mesa County Assistant District Attorney who prosecuted the murder trial in 1996 apologized to Dewey, reported Colorado's 9News.
I deeply regret that it took so many years to uncover your innocence, Tuttle said.
Dewey believes there are more innocent people behind bars. He said his long prison sentence threw me into a dark tunnel but he tried to stay as positive as possible despite the circumstances.
He said he was not angry at the wrongful conviction and his Native American faith helped him get through his imprisonment.
Now he's trying to start over even though he knows there's going to be trials and tribulations out here too he said to the Associated Press.
I got locked up when I was 33 and I'm 51 now, Dewey said to Colorado's 9News. There's a lot for me to catch up on.
He has a challenging adjustment ahead. He's never used a cell phone. He lives in a world without computers and cell phones, Dewey's attorney Danyel Joffe said. Joffe said they would consider a lawsuit against the state to award financial damages for wrongly serving a life in prison sentence with no hope of parole.
Dewey admitted that he didn't' understand what texting was, asking why wouldn't they just talk?
Dewey is looking forward to getting back on his motorcycle and riding it, though he doesn't yet know where.
As long as it's in the wind, I'm happy, he said.
Dewey plans to leave Colorado and live with his girlfriend Angela.
He requested a steak dinner for his first meal as a free man.