DNA: Man freed after 16 years in rape case

April 30, 2012 at 8:13 PM
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GRAND JUNCTION, Colo., April 30 (UPI) -- A Colorado man wrongly convicted of a 1994 murder walked free after almost 16 years in prison because of new DNA evidence police say points to a new suspect.

Judge Brian Flynn signed a motion Monday, filed jointly by the Mesa County District Attorney's Office and attorney Danyel Joffee, to vacate the 1996 conviction of Joffee's client, Robert Dewey.

"He was unjustly imprisoned for a hideous crime he did not commit. I believe he has the courage and the stamina to put these dark days behind him and get on with his life. He was always optimistic that he was going to be released," Joffe said.

Dewey, 55, was found guilty in 1996 of the rape and murder of 19-year-old Jacie Taylor. He was released Monday after DNA found at the crime scene, not available in Mesa County when Dewey was convicted, determined Dewey was innocent -- and led police to a suspect who already was in custody.

Douglas Thames -- who has been charged with first degree sexual assault and first degree murder -- is serving a life sentence for a 1989 murder in Ft. Collins, KUSA-TV, Denver, reported.

During Dewey's trial, forensics experts testified Dewey's shirt showed a stain containing both his blood and Taylor's DNA. Dewey's defense argued the combination could have come from many sources, and tried to convince the jury investigators didn't do a good job and had overlooked other suspects, KUSA said.

The case was reviewed in 2010 by the DNA Justice Review Project, which operates under the auspices of the Denver District Attorney Colorado Attorney General's office through a grant of more than $1.2 million.

Asked about his plans, Dewey said he would "take it a day at a time and a step at a time," KKCO-TV, Grand Junction, Colo., reported.

"I'm not going to Disneyland ... Gonna get a bite to eat; get some real food a steak or something."

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