I could not make this up in a million years.
A few days ago I received an impassioned plea for justice in my email box. I have rarely ever read something so completely outrageous and nonsensical as to what has happened to a man who made a mistake during his youth, turned himself around, and then got yanked back to prison again over a supposed clerical mistake!
In the words of his wife:
"My husband Rene Michael Lima-Marin was incarcerated in 1998 at the age of 19 and served 10 years of his 16 year sentence for robbery in which he used an unloaded gun and no one was hurt. He was released in 2008 and placed on parole which he successfully completed in 2013. But in January 2014 it was determined that a clerical error had been made and he was sent back to prison for an additional 90 years.So how on earth did this happen?
"During his six years of freedom, Rene strived to be a productive member of society. He had been rehabilitated and took full advantage of this second chance; we had a child, purchased a home, and got married. He coached his step-son’s soccer team, mentored other youth to stay out of trouble, and maintained full time employment so he could support our family."
He says his appeals lawyer told him 13 years earlier that his sentence was just 16 years.It appears that the charges and individual sentences are excessive, to say the least. This kind of sentencing is on par with the awful "three-strikes" laws that we have had in some states:
“She was like, in this appeals process, the best thing that could have possibly happened to you was that everything would be ran concurrent and you would have 16 years. And that’s what you have right now. He says she told him, in her advice, to withdraw his appeal for a reduced sentence.
But her information was wrong—as was the court file sent to the Department of Corrections stating his sentences should run all at once, instead of back-to-back.
His prior criminal history was thefts committed as a juvenile.
Yet, his case was aggressively prosecuted under a program call COP (chronic offender program) that’s no longer in use. It consisted of a board of police, citizens and district attorneys who approved cases in which there were multiple acts of criminal behavior or extensive criminal history.
His eight convictions led to a 98-year sentence. The judge ordered each sentence to run consecutive to each other.Regardless of his past he has rehabilitated himself and for the past six years has led an exemplary life:
Three counts of armed robbery got him 10 years each for a total of 30 years. It’s a crime that normally carries a term of just four to 16 years.
The convictions also included three counts of kidnapping, each carrying 16 years.
Rich Orman, Senior Deputy DA with the 18th Judicial District says Lima-Marin was charged with kidnapping because he moved three people from the front of the store to the back.
He also got 10 years each for two counts of burglary.
The Colorado State Public Defender says had Lima-Marin’s case been prosecuted today, he’d likely get a more reasonable offer of between 20 to 30 years.
“I did something wrong. I acknowledge the fact I did something wrong. I take responsibility for the fact I did something wrong. But I also believe I completed the punishment, the just punishment for the crime,” he says.His wife adds:
It’s a punishment he says breaks up his family.
“And not only for me, because I know that seems selfish, because it hurts me. But it hurts them as well,” he says with tears in his eyes
"I certainly do not want to make light of the mistakes that Rene made as a teenager but I do call into question the life sentence Rene and our family faces. Does a man that was formally released from the penal system, met all the conditions of this release, and turned his life around deserve this type of justice? Are we as a society really willing to accept that a clerical error is enough justification to rip apart a family?"His family has set up an online petition to help generate support for his immediate release.
They’re also accepting any donations to help pay for a lawyer that has accepted the case.