James Broderick, detective accused in Tim Masters case, no. 1 in Top 5 Police Blunders

In June, we told you about the indictment of Detective James Broderick on eight perjury counts related to the case of Tim Masters, who was wrongfully convicted of murder.

Now, Broderick's got another dubious achievement on his résumé. He's number one on a just-published list of the Top 5 Police Blunders.

The roster appears on, which comes to us courtesy of Village Voice Media, Westword's parent company. It looks at crime from a national perspective, which makes Broderick's list-topping performance even more impressive -- and not necessarily in a good way.

Masters, as you'll recall, was found guilty of Peggy Hettrick's 1987 murder in 1999; he spent nine years in stir before being freed thanks to DNA evidence. This year, he's received a $5.9 million settlement from the City of Fort Collins and another $4.1 million from the Larimer County judicial district. But no amount of money can return his lost years.'s Chris Parker recounts the main accusations against Broderick:

Under oath, Broderick denied having any contact with the case since 1987, conveniently forgetting the failed surveillance operation. Nor did he reveal any of the available contrary information (such as the surveillance failure) to the "expert." Broderick withheld, and later destroyed other evidence that may have connected the crime to a sexual deviant who also lived near the crime scene, and who committed suicide when arrested on other charges. (The suicide case had been a doctor, which would have gone a long way in explaining the surgical precision of the sexual mutilation of Hettrick's body.)

Parker's conclusion?

Perhaps it's better late than never, but the whole case just makes you feel dirty. It's hard to find any redeeming message, like be careful who you move in next-to because you might be blamed, though perhaps there's something in the fact that an innocent man was eventually freed. It only took nine years. That's practically fifteen minutes in bureaucratic time.

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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts