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Rene Lima-Marin back in prison for 90 years after court error



By SADIE GURMAN

AURORA, Colo. (AP) - Rene Lima-Marin's wife told her two young sons their father had to go to work the night in January when a team of police officers led her husband away in handcuffs.

It had been nearly six years since he left prison, and his family believed he had paid his debt to society.

But Lima-Marin should have stayed behind bars for the rest of his life. A court clerk's error led to his release in 2008 - 90 years too soon. Colorado authorities did not discover the mistake until January and immediately sent him back to prison to serve the rest of his 98-year sentence for armed robbery.

Lima-Marin's case comes as other clerical errors have let criminals evade prison time. In Missouri, a judge this week freed a convicted robber who didn't report to prison - despite trying to do so - for 13 years because of a clerical mistake. A Los Angeles murder suspect who was accidentally freed last year due to a clerk's error was captured on Thursday.

And in Colorado, an inmate mistakenly released four years early due to such a mistake killed the state's corrections chief at his front door last year. That prompted Gov. John Hickenlooper to order an audit of thousands of inmates' records to ensure they are serving the correct sentences. Lima-Marin wasn't part of the audit because it focused on other kinds of felonies, corrections department spokeswoman Adrienne Jacobson said.

Lima-Marin and another man were convicted in 2000 after robbing two Aurora video stores when Lima-Marin was 20. In one robbery, they ordered employees into a back room at gunpoint, and a worker was ordered to the floor as they demanded money from a safe.

A judge sentenced Lima-Marin to serve back-to-back sentences on eight convictions, for a total of 98 years. But a court clerk mistakenly wrote in his file that the sentences were to run at the same time. Corrections officials depend on that file to determine how much time an inmate should serve.

Lima-Marin was released on parole in 2008 after serving just eight years.

He set about building his life - while, prosecutors say, being fully aware of the clerical error and never notifying authorities.

Lima-Marin, now 35, started selling coupon books door-to-door, and more recently became skilled at cutting and installing windows. He reconnected with his former girlfriend, Jasmine Lima-Marin, and they married in July in a ceremony that also celebrated his completion of five years of parole. He was active in church and helped coach soccer.

Lima-Marin helped Jasmine raise her 7-year-old son, Justus. Soon, they had another boy, Josiah, who is now 4. Lima-Marin was in prison for his birthday party.

"That was his life, raising his kids and being a husband," Jasmine said. "He definitely was not the same person that he was when he went in to prison."

Lima-Marin's co-defendant, Michael Clifton, also would have been mistakenly released early, but the error in his file was uncovered after he filed an appeal in his case. Clifton is serving 98 years in prison.

Lima-Marin filed his own appeal in 2000 but, in a rare move, asked that it be dismissed less than a year later. Prosecutors say that showed he was aware of the clerical error before his release and feared any further court action would call attention to it.

Rich Orman, an Arapahoe County senior deputy district attorney, said he was alerted to the error in January by a former prosecutor who handled Lima-Marin's case and was checking on its status. Orman quickly filed a motion to send Lima-Marin back to prison. A judge agreed.

"He should go back because the law requires the sentence he received. This was a number of very serious criminal offenses, and anything less would be inappropriate," Orman said. "He should not be able to escape the minimum sentence due to a clerical error."

Jacobson, with the state corrections department, said it was the court that made the mistake and prison officials would not have known Lima-Marin was released incorrectly.

Colorado State Public Defender Doug Wilson did not return calls seeking comment. In April, a judge declined to release Lima-Marin at his public defender's request, noting that Lima-Marin knew he should have served 98 years but remained silent about the mistake.

The Associated Press reached out to Lima-Marin for comment but he has not responded.

"We don't have secrets. If he knew there was a mistake, he would have told me," Jasmine said. She said her husband did not try to mask his identity.

The prospect of Lima-Marin remaining imprisoned for nine more decades has devastated his family. They argue his clean life after prison shows he has been punished enough. Jasmine said they are considering another appeal and have reached out to the attorney involved in the recent Missouri case.

"He was given an opportunity to live again and it was taken away from him," Jasmine said.

Join the discussion

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libsfault May 09 2014 at 1:15 PM

Laziness...today's generation. Wait till the pot smoking generation starts doing these jobs.

Flag Reply +6 rate up
9 replies
kguglielmo May 09 2014 at 1:21 PM

98 years????? really child molesters get less sentences..the guy clearly got his life together!!! This society is so backwards

Flag Reply +14 rate up
1 reply
michelletlopez kguglielmo May 09 2014 at 1:29 PM

Yeah, that is what I was thinking. Even though guns were used, and I am sure it was a horrifying experience for the people involved, no one was physically hurt. Murderers and rapists don't get 98 years! Amazing, and not in a good way.

Flag Reply +4 rate up
joseph May 09 2014 at 1:21 PM

what pot smoking generation are you talking about? libsfault...

Flag Reply +2 rate up
SandiK May 09 2014 at 1:21 PM

Our Government and the Justice system is Sooo CORUPT!! It's absolutely disgusting that so many would rather cower than do what is right!

Flag Reply +3 rate up
yannaro May 09 2014 at 1:21 PM

Life in prison for 2 armed robberies. it would be interesting to find out if others in Colorado got the same sentence, and from the same judge.

Flag Reply +7 rate up
hey May 09 2014 at 1:22 PM

give me a break, he was given 98 years and by mistake got out after a couple of years and he thinks he paid his dept. he should about that before he became a criminal, give him 25 more years and call it even

Flag Reply +1 rate up
4 replies
jnelson014 May 09 2014 at 1:22 PM

We have crooks in Washington doing worse than this daily

Flag Reply +8 rate up
1 reply
DON SR jnelson014 May 09 2014 at 1:33 PM

The crooks in Washington don't need guns so the dangerous weapon part is removed. lol

Flag Reply +2 rate up
volpeavol May 09 2014 at 1:22 PM

Totally the fault of a malfunctioning and dysfunctional system. If someone is freed due to a system error and goes on to build a respectable family life with no further trouble, what purpose does it serve to imprison them once again. Now his children have no father to raise or support them.
Preposterous!

Flag Reply +6 rate up
1 reply
michaelgums volpeavol May 09 2014 at 1:49 PM

I agree with Kevinh8. I work for an attorney and although I do not know the facts of this case, 98 years seems extreem for crimes commited that didn't result in the taking of a human life. I've seen instances where fatalities have been involved and a lesser sentencance was handed down. I can honestly say that I don't believe most of us feel or do the same things at 35 as we did at 18 or 20. I do believe people can be rehabilited, in some, not all cases. I don't think I would have said anything if I was in prison serving what is no doubt a life sentance at 98 years and was released early. It sounds like he followed through with his parole for 5 years, that tells me he was compliant. I wonder how many people would say "Hey, I think you guys made a mistake, I still have some 80 years to serve"?

Flag Reply +3 rate up
wacajo May 09 2014 at 1:23 PM

Time for a Pardon.

Flag Reply +2 rate up
jim willeford May 09 2014 at 1:23 PM

The criminal " justice " system in this country has way too many screw ups. Law enforcement and the court system are all skewed to favor the wealthy, and abuse the poor.

Can't people see that cops and courts are just the other dies if the coin from their perps. Same ugly mistakes and techniques and con artist mentality.

I fear the enforcers more than I do most "criminals".

Flag Reply +1 rate up
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