After being convicted of rape and murder and sentenced to life in prison, Robert Dewey walked out of a Colorado courtroom a free man after he was exonerated by new DNA evidence.
Dewey appeared in a Colorado court yesterday. Judge Brian Flynn granted a motion brought jointly by prosecutors and Dewey's lawyer and exonerated the 51-year-old for the 1994 rape and murder of a Colorado woman.
Judge Flynn was quoted by the Denver Post saying, "It's really a humbling day for a lot of people involved in the criminal justice system."
On June 4, 1994, the body of 19-year-old Jacie Taylor was discovered in an overflowing bathtub. She had been strangled to death with a dog leash. Dewey was later arrested, tried, and convicted.
For the past 11 years, attorney Danyel Joffe has been working to clear Dewey. She began having a bloody shirt belonging to her client retested. While at trial the blood was determined to be the victim's, the retest showed it was only Dewey's blood.
On the basis of the fact the blood on the shirt did not belong to the victim, Joffe was able to interest the Colorado Justice Review Project and the New York Innocence Project to take up Dewey's cause. On behalf of the Colorado organization, Senior Assistant Attorney General Julie Selsberg requested the Colorado Bureau of Investigation take another look.
Blood and semen samples were analyzed again. Selsberg was quoted by Channel ll News as saying, The results all indicated a match to each other and not to Mr. Dewey.
The Mesa County District Attorney's Office then took over the case, culminating in yesterday's court proceedings.
District Attorney Pete Hautzinger was quoted by Channel 11 saying, I certainly am very regretful of the fact that Mr. Dewey spent so much time in prison.
The DNA tests not only cleared Dewey but led investigators to another man, Douglas Thomas Thames. Thames is currently serving a life sentence for the rape and murder of another Colorado woman, Susan Doll, in 1989. Warrants have been issued and Thames will be prosecuted for Taylor's death.
After being released, Dewey was quoted in the Toronto Sun saying, I get to step outside there, touch a tree, get a dog and kiss my girl.
He also told assembled reporters he was not angry at what happened to him. He said, What good will it do? They threw me into a dark hole with a pinhole of light. I had to stay positive.
Dewey's immediate plan was to have a steak dinner.
Colorado does not have a program to compensate those who have been wrongly convicted but it is expected that a civil suit will be launched.