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Robert Dewey Cleared Of 1994 Rape, Murder After New DNA Testing

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Grand Junction Police Dept.
Grand Junction Police Dept.

A man who was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole nearly 16 years ago may walk free Monday after being exonerated by a new analysis of DNA evidence.

Robert Dewey, 51, was convicted in Mesa County, Colo. for the 1994 rape and murder of Palisade resident Jacie Taylor. According to the Denver Post, Dewey has maintained his innocence over the years and repeatedly asked the court to order a retesting of the shaky DNA evidence used to convict him.

Taylor, who was just 19 at the time, had been found strangled to death in her apartment bathtub with a dog leash. She had been beaten and sexually assaulted.

Though evidence that was brought up throughout the trial included a handprint, semen and a blood stain, DNA testing at the time raised at least as many questions as clues.

"There was incomplete sampling done and had they done a greater sampling it would have shown the other person, or shown that it wasn't Mr. Dewey's," Dewey's defense attorney Steve Laiche told KJCT. "They never did have Mr. Dewey's DNA."

Blood found on Dewey's shirt was speculated to have come from Taylor, but an expert witness testified during Dewey's trial, it also could have come from approximately 45 percent of the Caucasian population.

Then-Mesa County District Judge Charles Buss, who handed down Dewey's life sentence in 1995, reportedly said, "I am happy to impose it on you."

That was less than five years before Tim Masters was wrongfully imprisoned for the murder of Peggy Hettrick. Masters would spend almost a decade behind bars before his conviction was overturned in 2008 because of DNA evidence. Hettrick's murder remains unsolved.

CBS4 reports that as the new DNA analysis in the Taylor case exonerates Dewey, it also points to another man believed to be a suspect in her death. Douglas Thames, 39, is already serving a life sentence with parole in Canon City for the murder of Susan Doll, who was also raped and strangled.

Dewey is expected to be released after a press conference in Grand Junction.

WATCH [via 9News] video above about Dewey's case.

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