DA moves to dismiss Masters case

On Tuesday a judge released Tim Masters, who spent spent nine years in prison after his 1999 conviction for the grisly 1987 murder of Peggy Hettrick. Newly-conducted DNA testing strongly suggested that Masters was innocent.

The question then became whether the Larimer County District Attorney would retry Masters. On Friday the DA filed a motion with the court to dismiss the case. In his motion the DA says that “[w]hile the newly discovered DNA evidence does not exonerate Timothy Masters, it clearly warrants a complete re-examination of all the evidence related to the murder of Peggy Hettrick” and requests an interests-of-justice dismissal of the murder charge.

The DA can try to re-indict Masters at some future time, of course, but for now he’s in the clear. The motion and proposed order granting it (pdf, 3 pages) is available here courtesy of CNN.

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Comments

  • Lyn Dell Sowers  On February 1, 2008 at 3:19 pm

    I’m concerned about the articles I’ve read and this blog entry that states that Tim Masters could be re-indicted for this murder. Why is he not covered by the Double Jeopardy laws? Where a person cannot be tried twice for the same crime. Isn’t that law in all states? I hope someone can answer me. Please email me if you know the answer, lyndell_sowers@hotmail.com Thanks

  • genghishitler  On February 1, 2008 at 4:21 pm

    Thanks for commenting, Lyn.

    Yes, the “double jeopardy” principle applies nationwide. It’s part of the Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which is binding on the federal government and all the states.

    In relevant part, the Fifth Amendment says that no “person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb . . . .” In a criminal case tried to a jury, the defendant is “put in jeopardy” when the jury is sworn in. On that basis, you’d think that the Double Jeopardy Clause would prohibit retrying Masters for Peggy Hettrick’s murder.

    Unfortunately, things are rarely that easy when it comes to constitutional law. Court decisions interpreting the Double Jeopardy Clause are many and complicated.

    In this case it basically boils down to the fact that, as matters now stand, there’s been no determination of whether Masters is guilty or not guilty. The DNA evidence that formed the basis for Masters’ release didn’t prove innocence; it just cast doubt on whether or not Masters did it. Ridiculous though it sounds, the law treats this situation as though the original trial never happened at all.

    GH

  • charlesrcardo  On February 2, 2008 at 9:05 am

    The interpretation of the double jeopardy clause of the fifth amendment to the Constitution by various courts throughout the years seems to muddy rather elucidate the original meaning and intent of the law.

    The reasonable interpretation would be: how does the common citizen interpret this amendment? I suspect tat the average person would say that a defendant can not be tried a second time for a crime of which he was found not guily, exonerated or case dismissed, as is the case with Tim Masters. What we have now is a criminal judicial system that seeks a conviction at all costs, as their reputations are at stake. That could result in the usurpation of indidvidual civil liberties and a gangster prosecutorial mentality.

  • Pennyp  On February 2, 2008 at 11:20 am

    somehow i think that the reason that Masters is still considered a suspect is because that the people who did this in the first place do not want to be held accountable. I believe that they need to do the same prison sentence that Masters got. It’s ridiculous that they can get away virtually scottfree of the crime that was inflicted on masters.

  • Ron Maxwell  On February 2, 2008 at 4:20 pm

    None of what I have read here suprises Me. I was put thru a Felony Trial in Delta County, Colorado because My Face “assaulted” an Old Mans Hand on MY property. ( He SLAPPED Me when I told Him to leave!) The “Investigateing” Delta County Deputy stated IN WRITING, He saw no reason to “investigate” the site of the alledged assault even though the “victim” claimed He lost a hearing aid and broke His glasses during the “asault”. During the “trial” proceedings, The Judge not only refused to recuse Himself (over another incident involving this Court system), But He aslo ordered Me, in Chambers, Not to disclose information about the alledged Victim to the Jury: That info being the Man the accused Me of assault was convicted of having intercourse with his 8 (EIGHT) year old Daughter (so much for being able to explore the character of those doing the accusing!). They aslo brought in the BEST Procecutor from the Delta/Montrose area to handle the case. During the “trial”, what probably did more for My being found not guilty than anything else was the obvious attempt by the Procecutor and Judge to “railroad” Me: The Jury saw right thru it! This all came about because I previously submitted a document to the County Clerk stating My outrage and disbelief that a County Judge was allowed to hold Court while under the influence of what I believed to be ILLEGAL drugs. So much for speaking out against injustice. People need to understand that a Judge, especially when He WANTS to, quotes ONLY the portion of the LAW the He wants to SUPPORT His decision upon; meaning IF You read the ENTIRE section of the LAW, instead of what the Judge WANTS You to hear, the TRUE meaning of the LAW can and has been totally different. Until People realize the Legal system is nothing but ANOTHER ‘Good Ole Boys’ Club and DEMAND fair treatment, cases such as Mine and worse, Mr. Masters will never stop.

  • genghishitler  On February 4, 2008 at 7:36 am

    Charles,

    Thanks for stopping by.

    The interpretation of the double jeopardy clause of the fifth amendment to the Constitution by various courts throughout the years seems to muddy rather elucidate the original meaning and intent of the law.

    Absolutely. You’re preachin’ to the choir on this issue. 🙂

    The reasonable interpretation would be: how does the common citizen interpret this amendment?

    I don’t know that I’d go that far. First of all, what’s the relevant time frame? Do we go by the common citizen of 1791, the common citizen of today or the common citizen of some other time? Second, and more important, we’d be hard pressed to ascertain a monolithically-held “common citizen” view of any constitutional provision.

    What we have now is a criminal judicial system that seeks a conviction at all costs, as their reputations are at stake. That could result in the usurpation of indidvidual civil liberties and a gangster prosecutorial mentality.

    Usurpation of civil liberties and gangsta prosecutorial mentality are pretty much the norm nowadays, sad to say.

    GH

  • genghishitler  On February 4, 2008 at 7:41 am

    Penny,

    Thanks for your comment.

    somehow i think that the reason that Masters is still considered a suspect is because that the people who did this in the first place do not want to be held accountable.

    That may well be. We’ve now got a special prosecutor and the state Attorney General looking into allegations of misconduct on the part of the Ft. Collins police and the two prosecutors (both of whom are now judges) who originally handled Masters’ case. It remains to be seen whether they’ll get off scott-free, but in the event it’s determined that these clowns intentionally railroaded Masters, I like your idea for sentencing.

    GH

  • genghishitler  On February 4, 2008 at 7:45 am

    Damn, Ron, that’s some seriously messed up shit right there! Glad to see the outcome was favorable, though. The jury system worked exactly like it’s supposed to in your case.

    GH

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