On January 22, Timothy Lee Masters is expected to be released from custody thanks to new evidence that calls into doubt his 1999 conviction in the slaying of Fort Collins' Peggy Hettrick twelve years earlier. Many parties deserve credit for this stunning turn of events, including Masters' indefatigable legal team and a smattering of DNA experts in the U.S. and abroad. But the Denver Post has earned the right to kudos as well for consistently strong coverage that kept pressure on all concerned to do the right thing.
Reporter Miles Moffeit's July 15, 2007 front-pager on the Masters matter -- "Sketchy Evidence Raises Doubt" -- followed the Rocky Mountain News' take on the same topic by a couple of days. Nevertheless, the Post piece was a deeper, denser, more compelling exploration of the issue. The offering soon led to "Trashing the Truth," a series by Moffeit and Susan Greene, now the paper's metro columnist, that examined the flawed manner in which many agencies deal with DNA.
Moffeit's subsequent reporting proved so nettlesome to Fort Collins officials that they demanded a sit-down with Post editor Greg Moore to air their gripes -- a get-together explored in this More Messages entry. Thankfully, Moore stood by Moffeit, and Masters' impending release proves that the editor made the right decision. The Post's actions exemplify daily newspapering at its best, and provide yet another reason for folks of every stripe to hope the medium stays alive for the long haul. -- Michael Roberts