Robert Dewey reportedly cleared of rape, murder after sixteen years in jail

Robert Dewey always insisted that he didn't rape and murder nineteen-year-old Jacie Taylor in Palisade circa 1994 -- and now authorities have reportedly reached the same conclusion.

Unfortunately, this determination comes after he's spent almost sixteen years in jail for the crime.

The details of the shocking case can be found in this trove of newspaper clips covering Dewey's arrest and conviction. They're from either the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel, which broke the news of Dewey's exoneration, or the Denver Post.

Taylor died in her Palisade apartment in June 1994, As noted by the Post, her body was found in a half-filled bathtub, naked from the waist down. She had been beaten, sexually assaulted and strangled with what the Sentinel now describes as a nylon dog leash, but which was initially dubbed a dog collar by the paper back in 1996, when Dewey's month-long trial took place.

As this passage of time suggests, Dewey wasn't immediately arrested for the crime. Indeed, the Sentinel reports that the official charge didn't come until April 1995, five days after he was released from jail after serving a sentence for an unrelated weapons charge.

In his opening statement, Deputy District Attorney Rich Tuttle noted that Dewey, nicknamed "Rider," had been staying with the family of Cynthia "Sam" Mallow, Taylor's roommate, in a residence near the apartment. He added that the Mallow clan recalled him being visibly nervous on the night of the murders and saying, "They'll be coming for me" as he looked in the direction of Jacie's place. Tuttle argued that Dewey had provided investigators with false information and given bogus information about a wound on his arm that prosecutors believed had been inflicted during the slaying.

The Mallows also provided a work shirt of Dewey's stained with what one lab concluded was a mixture of his and Taylor's blood.

Page down to continue reading about the Robert Dewey case. Dewey's attorney, Randy Brown, disputed this conclusion, suggesting that DNA evidence had been tainted by mishandling, and hinted at evidence pointing at Cynthia Mallow, described by the Sentinel as a "self-professed lesbian," and an unknown man. For instance, Brown said Cynthia and Jacie had argued over the ownership of a ring in the days before the latter's death -- and that very same ring was found on Taylor's dead body, just below her navel. Brown also maintained that Cynthia had requested that her brother provide her with an alibi for the night of the murder.

Efforts by Brown to undermine the credibility of the DNA evidence, which one expert said could have come from a whopping 45 percent of the population, continued throughout the trial -- and that's not all. The Post noted Brown's claims about a bar of soap with a fingerprint on it that was found in Taylor's vagina during her autopsy. But at some point after the soap was designated evidence, the fingerprint disappeared.

Meanwhile, prosecutors portrayed Dewey as dangerous and drug-addled. For instance, Mesa County Chief District Judge Charles Buss allowed testimony that the suspect had been tweaked on meth the day before Taylor was killed.

After the jury returned with a first-degree murder conviction, Buss let Dewey have it. The Sentinel quoted him as saying, "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." In regard to his sentence of life without the possibility of parole, Buss said, "I am happy to impose it on you."

For his part, Dewey never stopped proclaiming his innocence -- at one point, he told the judge, "There's still a killer out there" -- and promptly appealed his conviction. Among his claims: The jury foreman knew two of the witnesses who testified against him but didn't mention it to anyone.

What's changed in the decade-plus since then? It appears that new DNA testing that's more accurate than what was in use during the mid-1990s has exonerated Dewey once and for all.

A press conference about the case is scheduled to take place on Monday -- the same day Dewey is expected to be freed at long last.

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More from our Colorado Crimes archive: "Peggy Hettrick: New DNA evidence in murder that led to improper Tim Masters conviction."

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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.
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