(WSVN) - A Colorado man was accidentally released from prison just eight years into his 98-year sentence. Another six years passed before authorities realized their error, and re-arrested him. Now a judge has determined that he is a free man once more.
Rene Lima-Marin was sentenced to 98 years in prison for robbing two video stores in 1998, CNN reports.
He was found guilty of multiple counts of burglary, kidnapping, aggravated robbery, and use of a deadly weapon during commission of a crime, though no shots were fired and no injuries were reported. A paperwork mix-up led to him being improperly released in 2008, and it would take prison officials until 2014 to figure out he was no longer behind bars.
In the six years that Lima-Marin was free, his attorney Kimberly Diego says he found a job, got married, and had two children.
“His case was unique in that sense,” she said. “Not all people who are rehabilitated behave that way.”
Aarapahoe County District Court Judge Carlos Samour Jr. agreed, saying in the 165-page decision, “It would be utterly unjust to compel Lima-Marin, at this juncture, to serve the rest of his extremely long sentence.”
The judge continued, calling the now-former inmate an “asset to society” and “outstanding citizen” who encouraged youth to make good decisions.
An error in prison paperwork said Lima-Marin was to serve his sentences concurrently instead of consecutively. This led an attorney to tell him to not appeal, saying the sentence had been reduced, which meant he would be released on parole in 2008.
Judge Samour noted that officials did not notice Lima-Marin was no longer in prison until 2014, when a former prosecutor did a search for the inmate’s name on the Department of Corrections website. Authorities arrested him that same day in front of his family, ordering him to serve the rest of his 98-year sentence.
“In effect, after its utter lack of care led to Lima-Marin’s premature release and prolonged erroneous liberty, in January 2014 the government decided to compensate for its transgressions by swiftly turning back the clock and returning Lima-Marin to prison — not through the use of a magic wand or the invention of a time machine built out of a DeLorean, which might have transported him back to his life in April 2008, but through the simple issuance of an arrest warrant, which merely put him back in prison, disregarding everything that had transpired between April 2008 and January 2014,” said Samour.
The judge called Lima-Marin a “model prisoner” and said the government acted with “conscience-shocking” indifference when they put him back in prison in 2014.
“Requiring Lima-Marin to serve the rest of his prison sentence all these years later would be draconian, would deprive him of substantive due process, and would perpetrate a manifest injustice. Because the Court finds that Lima-Marin is being unlawfully detained, he is ordered released. No other remedy will result in justice in this case,” the judge said.
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