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Man mistakenly released from prison, changes life, now must serve 90 more years

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AURORA, Colo. -- An Aurora man who turned his life around after he was mistakenly released from prison must serve 90 more years unless the governor steps in.

In January, the Arapahoe County Court realized its mistake and picked up the 35-year-old husband and father.

Rene Lima-Marin was ordered to serve back-to-back sentences of 98 years for armed robberies at two video stores more than 15 years ago.

A court clerk made an error telling the Department of Corrections his eight sentences were all supposed to run at the same time for 16 years.

The court corrected its mistake. But it has torn a family apart.

“By far, the worst day of my life and it hasn’t gotten any better since then,” says Rene’s wife, Jasmine.

She will never forget January 7, when her husband learned he was immediately going back to prison to complete a 98-year sentence.

“For sure there had to be some kind of mistake,” reasoned Jasmine.

After all, Rene had just served half of a 16-year sentence and completed five years parole.

“He looked out the window and he said, ‘Oh my God. I can’t believe it,” recalls Jasmine of that fateful night.

The police had come to get him. The officer told Rene he was so sorry he had to do this.

“He told my husband to go ahead and give your wife a hug and your boys a hug. We woke up the boys and he gave them a hug and a kiss goodbye. That was it,” she says.

The officer took him from a reformed life he had built over nearly six years of freedom—a marriage, two children and a promising future

“It’s wrong because he’s changed. He changed his life for the better, when he got out. His number one goal was never to go back there,” says Jasmine.

Besides, she says a 98-year sentence was overly harsh for crimes in which no one was even hurt.

“Murderers don’t even get 98 years. I think it’s ridiculous,” she says.

But Senior Deputy District Attorney Rick Orman says Rene had a chance to ask for a reduced sentence but didn’t because, he says, Rene knew the clerical mistake might be uncovered.

“He decided to start a family. He decided to get married with this hanging over his head. And that’s what happened. It finally crashed down on his head,” says Orman.

Jasmine says she doesn't believe her husband knew about the mistake because she says he would have told her.

Now, those five years, eight months and 15 days of freedom are what Jasmine holds onto.

“All the memories I have of us here are in pictures or in my head,” she says.

Because she knows she may never create new memories with a man she’s loved since she was 16.

“We know there’s a chance we may not have any more time together with him being a free man ever again.”

Orman says he doesn’t see how the courts can help Rene.

He says it may be up to a commutation from the governor.


  • Baxter

    I can’t say that I really like the spin on this story. The man committed many crimes and had the opportunity for appeal. He knew that his release was an error and was dishonest about it. So now, if we gave him a break, what about all of the people that committed fewer and lessor crimes? Is it fair to them that he should get to walk? You do the crime, you do the time. He got six years of freedom in the midst of his sentence. I bet you that if he was given that choice at the beginning of his sentence, he would have taken it. Sounds like he should be claiming to be lucky rather than treated unfairly. Many change their lives while in prison and still have to serve their time. His big “turnaround” is not a good story either. Why the hell did he stay in the area knowing that this could be found out? Seems like Asia would have been a better option…

  • Farid

    Someone should tell Orman that it is not the man’s place to add or reduce to his own sentencing. I think Rene should be thoroughly investigated, interviewing neighbors and associates for ‘changed life’ testimony, and then released back into society. Give the reality of his experience in and out of prison a chance to be heard in a court of law. Do we not want all prisoners to be changed in exactly the way it seems this man has changed, and to show a loving family life to support it?

    • Baxter

      Of course it’s his place to ask for a reduced sentence. He absolutely would get that opportunity.

  • Sky Angel

    Many people make mistakes in life the justice system is so unfair theses days they will send some to prison for ever when it comes to robbery or anything to do with money being involved but yet give theses sickos who harm children a slap on the hand !!!! theses are the monsters who should be put away for ever but of course not they will let them back into society to destroy another innocent child.. What a shame :(

  • Baxter

    I think most of you are missing the point that Fox only showed you what they wanted you to see for the purpose of tugging your heart strings. This was a criminal who did more than is being said here. He deserves to take his punishment like the rest of us would have to.

    • unknown

      I am really good friends with Rene and the rest of the Lima family. At the age of 18 he robbed to Blockbusters, and was charged with armed robbery at the age of 20. After the court error was made and Rene got a second chance at life, he took full advantage of that by staying on the straight and narrow, successfully completing his probation, marrying his high school sweetheart, having a child, and keeping a steady job to support his family. Yes, the crime was heinous but it’s obvious that Rene learned from his mistakes. you’re missing the point that keeping an EX-con and productive member of society helps absolutely no one. His wife, now lays in bed alone with a small glimmer of hope that her husband will be free, his sons, now have no male role model teaching them qualities and traits of real men, and you Mr. Baxter, your tax dollars are now paying for a man, who for the last 6 years, has not been a threat to society. I believe very well that if you do the crime you pay the time, but what good is going to come from keeping a good man locked up and off the streets?

      • Anonymous

        Hello Unknown, I understand fully where you are coming from. I think that it is great that he changed his life for the better, and he stayed on the straight and narrow. With that being said, he did DO the crime, and he had a chance to come clean and didn’t knowing his paperwork was wrong. I don’t believe that he should be serving 90 years for what he did, although I don’t really know what he did. The point is that when you break the law for whatever it might be, you have to own up and pay for your wrong doings. I really hope he doesn’t have to do the whole time, but if he gets off where do we draw the line for someone else. A lot of people change their life around while in prison, but because they are great people now they don’t just get to be released. Again, I hope he doesn’t have to serve all that time, but he should have never been released in the first place.

      • john

        I agree. A similar case happened recently in Minnesota with Cornealious Anderson who robbed a Burger King in 1999, and was able to get bail. Guess what, his trial date never came. He waited and waited, it never came.He too started a family and a construction business and never had anymore criminal or legal issues, he coached a children’s little league , was on the board of deacons at his church and his case too was a clerical error. Even the house he lived in, he built with his own hands. When the system caught the error, he spent 9 months in prison but recently the judge said considering all he accomplished during the time he should’ve been in prison for 13 years proved that he did not belong in prison and he told Cornealious Anderson, “you are free, go home”. The judge knew that it would not be in the interest of justice to send Cornealious Anderson back to prison to finish his 13 sentence. All these other posters saying that these men should serve out their sentences no matter what because of the example it will set should realize that everything isn’t black and white. Life isn’t always clear cut with edicts written into stone.

        Now Rene will end up costing tax payers THOUSANDS of dollars every year for decades to be housed in prison where he will die from old age and now his wife and kids will ALSO end up costing the tax payers as they will go on public assistance and her kids will lack a father’s guidance who turned his life around with a new life after his own transgression as well as there is a high chance the kids will become bitter at the system’s lack of mercy and without a father’s guidance , they too will end with their own criminal troubles years from now. I do not see how Rene is at fault here. I see the system at fault. I only wish Rene had left the state of Colorado upon completing his parole and having taken his family with him, moved far across country to the east coast. Chances are, he would still have his freedom, his wife and kids, and waking up each day to go to work and it is doubtful that Colorado would go to the trouble of extraditing him. The US holds 25% of the world’s prison population. More than any other nation on the planet and yet it is still taught in school that we are the land of the free.I hope something happens fast for Rene for him to be released by intense public pressure and that his story does not fade away. The judicial system is messed up. There have been people who have beat another to death with their bare hands and served less than what Rene served. I mean MURDER, ended a life and yet still had a chance of freedom and a new start but Rene’s future doesn’t look that way.

        And before anyone responds to me as a bleeding heart liberal, get this, I am a 3rd party INDEPENDENT Libertarian and hold to neither of the 2 party system.

  • annpirie

    I think we need to own our mistakes. Department of Corrections made a mistake. I would like to see the benefit of the doubt given this man. Perhaps, since he has so shown he has changed, a monitored parole would be a common meeting ground. There are children involved in this matter. Give this guy a chance to continue to be a good father for them.

  • Dale Gross

    Why is the system never called to account for its mistakes? And while defendants might have the opportunity to ask for a reduced sentence, they are routinely rubber stamped “Denied.” So the prosecutor is being disingenuous with his statements. Further, the prosecutor doesn’t know, as he claims, that the defendant withdrew his appeal because he knew the error might be discovered. Even if that was the reason, the judicial system is extremely biased and unfair, so withdrawing the appeal in such a case would be far from dishonorable. And for those who say “do the time,” what time? “Time” is arbitrary. He did plenty of time and followed all the rules. Maybe the people who run the system should do some “time.”

  • Isaiah Jerome

    I know this man personally. I have known him for more than fifteen years. I was in Crowly Colorado with Him in 2001-2002. He was in many intense situations where he could have shown a criminalistic character but instead showed the changed heart that Jesus gave him. He has given his heart and life to serving the community to take back the youth from senseless lives of crime in the ministry called God’s Chisen Few. Further and most importantly he has given his life to raise a family correctly. And lastly, he never intentionally twisted his sentence structure. He showed me personally all his paperwork and stated that he had sixteen years and would be out in eight.

  • Frankie

    He wasn’t out for just a week, he was out years!!!! the system that got it wrong should be bloody embarrassed, not huff puffing that it was up to this man to highlight their! mistake.
    The judicial system is a complex thing to understand, maybe he just though, oh well, they’ve decided I can leave, it must be right. Ie they don’t let people out unless they are meant to. I know if it was me that’s what I would think and no I wouldn’t question it, even if I’d been led to believe differently before.
    If he has made the necessary changes to his life and is in fact a reformed character, then prison punishment/rehabilitation has already worked.
    In my opinion it is no longer necessary to lock him up.
    Fact is, in all parts of the world, if he was independently wealthy “like the recent child abuser I’ve been reading about” he would never even have to lay eyes on a prison.

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