A Colorado man who was sent back to prison after being mistakenly released was told by a judge Tuesday he is a free man.
Rene Lima-Marin was serving a 98-year prison term for robbing two video stores in 1998. He was released, improperly, in 2008, but was rearrested in 2014, when authorities realized the mistake. In a 165-page decision, Arapahoe County District Court Judge Carlos Samour Jr. said “it would be utterly unjust to compel Lima-Marin, at this juncture, to serve the rest of his extremely long sentence.”
In the six years Lima-Miran was free, he found a job, got married, started raising a family and purchased a home, said his attorney Kimberly Diego.
“His case was unique in that sense,” she said. “Not all people who are rehabilitated behave that way.”
Lima-Marin was called an “asset to society” and an “outstanding citizen” who worked with young people encouraging them to make good decisions, per the judge’s ruling.
The mix-up for the father of two boiled down to an error in paperwork that said Lima-Miran’s sentences were to be served concurrently, instead of consecutively.
Based on the paperwork, an attorney, who met with Lima-Marin in prison to discuss an appeal, told him his sentence had been reduced to 16 years. The attorney advised him to forgo the appeal and instead wait to be released on parole in 2008.
Lima-Miran’s absence from prison wasn’t noticed until January 7, 2014, when a former prosecutor searched for his name on the DOC’s inmate locator website and couldn’t find it. Lima-Marin was arrested by 11 p.m. the same day in front of his family, according to Samour’s report, in order to serve the remainder of his 98-year sentence.
“In effect, after its utter lack of care led to Lima-Marin’s premature release and prolonged erroneous liberty, in January 2014, the government decided to compensate for its transgressions by swiftly turning back the clock and returning Lima-Marin to prison – not through the use of a magic wand or the invention of a time machine built out of a DeLorean, which might have transported him back to his life in April 2008, but through the simple issuance of an arrest warrant, which merely put him back in prison, disregarding everything that had transpired between April 2008 and January 2014,” Samour said.
Lima-Marin started his prison term in April 2000, after being found guilty of multiple counts of kidnapping, burglary, aggravated robbery and – because a gun was used in the break-ins – use of a deadly weapon during commission of a crime. No shots were fired and no one was injured in the robberies, per the judge’s document.
Another person, Michael Clifton, was also convicted of the robberies.
In the judge’s decision, Lima-Miran was called a model prisoner who completed five years of parole with flying colors. Samour later adds the government acted with “conscience-shocking” indifference in re-incarcerating Lima-Marin in 2014.
“Requiring Lima-Marin to serve the rest of his prison sentence all these years later would be draconian, would deprive him of substantive due process and would perpetrate a manifest injustice. Because the court finds that Lima-Marin is being unlawfully detained, he is ordered released. No other remedy will result in justice in this case,” the judge said.
Lima-Marin is currently being held at the Fremont Correctional Facility in Canon City, Colorado, said his attorney. He could be released in the next day or two. The court is required to send the order terminating the sentencing to the Department of Correction prior to his release.
“This is a really uplifting case,” Diego said. “The judge was very thorough, took a lot of time and gave this case a lot of attention. You can tell he wanted to make sure this was perfect. We are thankful that he took the time that he did.”
The Colorado Attorney General’s office is currently reviewing the decision, according to spokesperson Annie Skinner.