Timothy Masters, whose 1999 murder conviction was tossed following revelations about DNA-shaped holes in the case reported by the Denver Post and other news organizations, will receive $4.1 million from the Eighth Judicial District of Larimer County and a handful of its district attorneys.
And that may be only the beginning of the money coming Masters's way. In a press release, attorney David Lane -- whose prominent clients have included Ward Churchill and Richard "Father of Balloon Boy" Heene --- makes it clear that the payment doesn't resolve a suit aimed at Fort Collins and defendants in the city's police force, which will likely be made to pony up in the future.
The dough doesn't make up for the years Masters lost -- but it's a belated step in the right direction. Read his comments and more below:
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Tim Masters Settles Claims Against Larimer County and Former District Attorneys Terence Gilmore, Jolene C. Blair, and Stuart VanMeveren, and Prepares for Continued Prosecution of Ft. Collins and its Officials
The Larimer County Board of County Commissioners announced on Tuesday, February 16, 2009, that it had agreed to pay to Tim Masters $4.1 million to settle claims made against the Eighth Judicial District of Larimer County and several of its former District Attorneys, including current sitting judges Terence Gilmore and Jolene Blair. Masters was fifteen years old in 1987, when he became the sole suspect for a horrific, sexual homicide in Fort Collins which he did not commit. The current settlement relates to his legal claims against the Judicial District and its officials arising out of the wrongful prosecution and conviction of him for the murder. Masters' post-conviction defense team, David Wymore and Maria Liu, had begun unraveling the prosecutorial and police misconduct that had led to Masters' wrongful conviction when he was exonerated by DNA evidence in 2008, after spending nearly a decade in prison. His federal lawsuit, filed in 2009, alleged that the District Attorneys conspired with the Ft. Collins Police Department to frame him by manufacturing evidence against him, destroying or hiding key evidence of his innocence, and presenting false testimony to ensure a wrongful conviction.
Tim Masters is gratified that the Eighth Judicial District of Larimer County and the District Attorney defendants in this case have settled this matter. The settlement allows Tim some degree of closure and financial security which has been sorely lacking since his release after ten years of wrongful imprisonment. Tim's civil case continues against the police defendants and the City of Ft. Collins, and no settlement has been reached as to those defendants, including with respect to Defendant Lieutenant Broderick, whom Masters alleges was the mastermind behind his wrongful conviction and imprisonment.
Tim Masters says "I'm pleased with the settlement and look forward to resolving this case completely." He also noted that "I would gladly pay ten million dollars, or whatever it took, if I could get those years of my life back. Unfortunately, that can never happen." One of Tim Masters' lawyers, David Lane of Killmer, Lane & Newman, LLP, noted, "This represents a good start toward fairly compensating Tim Masters, who spent ten years living as the only named suspect for this horrible homicide and almost a decade behind bars, having been framed for a crime he did not commit. I look forward to resolving this case with the police and City Defendants, either through a fair settlement or a trial." David Wymore, another of Mr. Masters' lawyers, said "Complete justice is impossible in a case like this, but this settlement represents a measure of accountability for those who stole Tim's innocence."
Until the entire matter is concluded, Tim Masters will not be addressing the press personally due to the ongoing nature of the litigation. Any press inquiries should be directed toward counsel.