Robert Dewey released for Jacie Taylor murder, convicted killer Douglas Thames top suspect

Last week, news broke that Robert Dewey had been exonerated in the 1994 slaying of Jacie Taylor, albeit after serving nearly sixteen years. Yesterday, Dewey was released around the same time authorities issued an arrest warrant for Douglas Thames, currently in stir for another rape and murder -- one for which he was convicted after the belated discovery of the victim's panties.

As we've reported, Jacie Taylor, age nineteen, was slain in June 1994. Her body was found in her Palisade apartment, naked from the waist down in a half-filled bathtub. She'd been beaten, sexually assaulted and strangled with a nylon dog leash.

Dewey, who was staying nearby with the family of Taylor's roommate, immediately became a suspect in the crime due in part to blood found on one of his work shirts. DNA testing on the garment convinced some investigators that the blood was a combination of Dewey's and Taylor's, while other experts believed the fluid could have come from literally thousands of others. Nonetheless, Dewey, whose alleged use of meth the day before the slaying appeared in the court record, was convicted and given life in prison.

After the jury delivered its verdict, Judge Charles Buss told Dewey, "I think this is a just sentence for you. You engaged in a few moments of pleasure with Miss Taylor and it cost her her life. It will haunt her parents and family for the rest of their lives." Regarding the sentence, Buss added, "I am happy to impose it on you."

For his part, Dewey never stopped declaring his innocence. During the trial, he said, "There's still a killer out there" -- and it turns out he was right. More effective DNA technology conducted under the auspices of the Colorado Attorney General's Justice Review Project cleared Dewey, resulting in a hearing yesterday at which Mesa County prosecutors formally apologized to him.

That same DNA pointed to another man as the suspected killer: Douglas Thames. As noted by the Fort Collins Coloradoan, Thames had previously been convicted of raping and murdering 39-year-old Susan Doll.

Not that justice was swift in that case. Doll was killed in 1989, when Thames was just sixteen years old. However, he wasn't arrested until 1995, when a pair of Doll's panties were found in a home where Thames previously lived.

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Like Dewey, Thames also claimed to have been wrongly accused. He made these assertions around the time of his 1996 conviction, as well as in 2007, when he appealed his conviction -- an action that was denied three years later. Likewise, the Coloradoan notes that his family also insisted that he'd been railroaded during previous interviews. We'll see if he such claims surface again in the face of evidence that he committed a similar murder in Palisade a year before being busted in the Doll slaying.

Look below to see a larger version of Thames's mug shot, followed by a CBS4 package about Dewey's release.

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