In June 1994, a 19-year-old woman was found raped and strangled in her apartment bathtub. Somehow, the police investigation led to a Colorado man who said he had nothing to do with the woman’s murder. In the end, the man ended up being convicted of her murder even though he continued to tell authorities that he was innocent. He ended up spending nearly 17 years in prison for a crime he claims he did not commit.

The man did not initially cooperate with police, but did later admit to knowing the dead woman. He had even visited her apartment on occasion. A bloody shirt was found in the accused man’s apartment. With this information, authorities began to put together a case against the man. He was given a life sentence with no possibility of parole.

In April 2012, DNA evidence cleared this man of the woman’s murder and led to an individual who is now believed to have raped and killed her. The trial of that man begins next year. He is not by any means the first man to have been wrongfully accused of a crime only to be found innocent years later.

However, he is the first man in Colorado to receive compensation from the state for his wrongful incarceration. In June of this year, a law was passed to provide compensation to inmates that have been exonerated. This man will receive $1.2 million, payable in the amount of $100,000 in September of each year until the paid in full. This works out to be approximately $70,000 for each year he was wrongfully incarcerated.

Obviously, the penalties for murder can be severe. Had it not been for the diligent work of people who believed in his innocence, this man could very well have spent the rest of his life behind bars. The use of DNA testing in crimes such as murder, rape, and other violent crimes can be crucial in proving someone’s innocence. Hopefully, this and other technologies will help ensure that innocent people don’t end up spending their lives in prison for crimes they never committed in the first place.

Source: CBS Denver,
After Unjust Sentence, Colorado Begins Paying Inmate, No author, Oct. 27, 2013