Sentencing/Post Conviction

DNA Frees Man Convicted Partly Because of Gory Art

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Updated: A man who was convicted of murder in 1999 partly on the basis of gory sketches and stories found in his home was released Tuesday after DNA evidence pointed to another suspect.

Tim Masters told CNN he is relieved to be free, but he remains angry at investigator Jim Broderick of the Fort Collins, Colo., police department.

“He made up his mind in the beginning, from day one when he walked into my bedroom and saw my horror drawings and war stories, that I was guilty,” Masters said. “Nothing would change his mind.”

A judge overturned Masters’ life sentence on Tuesday after a special prosecutor re-examining the case told the court that new DNA test results pointed to another man who had once been considered a suspect, the New York Times reports. Special prosecutor Don Quick also concluded that prosecutors withheld exculpatory evidence from the defense during Masters’ 1999 trial.

Masters was convicted of the 1987 murder of Peggy Hettrick, 12 years after he found her body in a field near his home. Masters’ father had given police the authority to search their trailer and permitted his 15-year-old son to be questioned without a lawyer present. A psychiatrist testified that Masters’ drawings indicated he fantasized about sexual homicides.

“It’s just unbelievable because here’s all these stories and drawings that have no nexus with the crime,” Masters said in the CNN interview. “There’s no one being stabbed in the back. There’s no one being sexually mutilated. … The only thing they had in common with this crime is there was violence.”

As a result of the Masters debacle, District Attorney Larry Abrahamson has pledged to ask law enforcement agencies to review every case in Larimer and Jackson counties in which the defendant is still serving time, reports the Tribune, a northern Colorado newspaper.

He and his staff have already begun meeting with authorities in Fort Collins, Colo., to discuss what the DA terms “the flow of critical information” in criminal cases.

Updated at 7 p.m., CT, on Jan. 25, 2008.

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