Criminal Justice

Mistakenly released inmate won't have to serve remaining 90 years, judge rules

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An inmate mistakenly released from prison in 2008 won’t have to serve the rest of his 98-year sentence, a Colorado judge has ruled.

Chief District Judge Carlos Samour Jr. of Arapahoe County ruled Tuesday that it would be “draconian” and a “manifest injustice” to require Rene Lima-Marin to remain in prison, report the Denver Post and the Aurora Sentinel. The Marshall Project covered Lima-Marin’s case in this April 2015 article.

Samour ruled that keeping Lima-Marin in prison violates his right to due process “based on the unique and exceptional circumstances involved in this case.”

Lima-Marin was sentenced in 2000 to 98 years in prison for two video store robberies he committed at age 19. He was mistakenly paroled in 2008 because a clerk listed his sentences as running concurrently, rather than consecutively.

Over the next five years and eight months, Lima-Marin married, became a father, became active in his church, and secured a job installing glass windows in skyscrapers. He was sent back to prison in 2014 when the mistaken release was discovered.

Prosecutors were able to secure the long sentence because a gun was used – Lima-Marin said it wasn’t loaded – and the crime was broken down into a series of actions, including kidnapping, a charge based on the movement of employees from one room to another.

The legislature had urged Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper to grant clemency to Lima-Marin. The governor’s office said it will review how the court decision affects the pending clemency application.

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