A man who spent 28 years in prison in Colorado will receive $1.9 million from the state under its exoneration law.
The man had been convicted of rape and assault, a verdict that was overturned. He was released from prison in 2015.
But compensation for that wrongful conviction had been hung up in legal battles. Colorado’s new attorney general, who assumed office in January, said he wouldn’t fight the payment.
“Although no amount of money can give (the man) back the half of his life that was lost to the Colorado prison system, this compensation will help him and his family recover from this traumatic ordeal,” his attorney said.
Under Colorado’s Exoneration Act, a person can receive $70,000 for each year of wrongful imprisonment.
The previous attorney general had disputed the main’s compensation claim saying he hadn’t proved his innocence despite the overturned conviction in the 1987 assault case.
The man was sentenced to 48 years in prison in 1988. In 1995, he won the right to have evidence tested for DNA. Denver police said the department wasn’t told about the order and destroyed the evidence before it could be tested.
Several years passed until the man received a letter in jail from a man who said he had more information on the case. That man testified he had sex with the woman on the night of the assault and hit her.
Based on that new evidence, the conviction was overturned. The case was retried in 2016 and the man was found not guilty.
The attorney general said since the DNA evidence had been destroyed there was no point in continuing to fight the payment.
He will become the second person approved for compensation in Colorado under the law.
This man’s case is proof that wrongful convictions can be righted. Because of the destruction of evidence, this man didn’t have the opportunity to prove his innocence. It’s also an example of why an aggressive, dedicated defense is so important in every case.