A former Colorado inmate who was accidentally released from prison 90 years early is fighting efforts to lock him up for the remainder of his sentence, saying he has reformed and paid his debt to society.
Rene Lima-Marin, sentenced to two back-to-back 98-year sentences in 2000 for holding up two video stores at gunpoint, was released in 2008 due to a clerical error.
He has since married, gotten a job, become a father and told the Associated Press that he attends church regularly. Now that the error has been discovered, he is fighting efforts to return him to prison, saying it amounts to cruel and unusual punishment.
“To give a man this false sense of hope and allow him to create a family and give birth to child and believe he could lead a normal life as a father and a husband and to then snatch him away from that is extremely cruel,” attorney Patrick Megaro told the AP.
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Rich Orman, a prosecutor with the Arapahoe County district attorney’s office, said Lima-Marin was aware of the error when he was first imprisoned, going so far as to drop an appeal on the advice of his attorney in order to keep it concealed.
At the time of his incarceration, a clerk mistakenly wrote down that Lima-Marin’s sentences were to be served concurrently rather than consecutively, allowing him to be eligible for parole after serving eight years.
He and another gunman were convicted on multiple counts of robbery, kidnapping and burglary during the video store holdups. One victim was ordered to lie on the ground with a gun to his head and told he was going to die.
“Even though this happened a long time ago, it’s not something you ever forget,” Shane Ashurst told the AP. “You’re going to live with it the rest of your life, and he should live with it the rest of his life.”
Lima-Marin told the news agency that he’s a different man, having married his girlfriend and helped raise her son, who is now 7. They have another son together, age 4. He said returning to jail to serve out his sentence would unfairly impact the lives of his wife and sons.
Orman, the prosecutor, called the original sentence “just” and said Lima-Marin is only free because of an error he knew about but hid from authorities.
“I find his assertion that he didn’t know about the mistake and didn’t do whatever he could to make sure no one else found out about it to be extremely dubious, if not downright impossible,” Orman told AP.
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