Judge frees inmate released 90 years early only to be imprisoned again

ARAPAHOE COUNTY, Colo. — An inmate who was mistakenly released from a 98-year sentence only to be sent back to prison was ordered free from prison Tuesday.

Chief Arapahoe County District Judge Carlos Samour Jr. wrote the reincarceration of Rene Lima-Marin was “utterly unjust.”

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“Requiring Lima-Marin to serve the rest of his prison sentence all these years later would be draconian, would deprive him of substantive due process, and would perpetrate a manifest injustice,” Samour wrote.

“Because the Court finds that Lima-Marin is being unlawfully detained, he is ordered released. No other remedy will result in justice in this case.”

Lima-Marin, now 38, was sentenced in 2000 for his role in two 1998 video store robberies. Let out on parole by mistake in 2008, Lima-Marin found work, got married and became a father to two boys.

When his former prosecutor happened to check on his whereabouts in 2014, the state realized Lima-Marin had been let out by mistake. His sentence was reinstated and he was sent back to prison.

“I would have never had a wife. I would have never had children. I would have never bought a house. I never would have done any of those things,” Lima-Marin said in 2014.

“But I did those because you let me out. And now they are being punished for something they had absolutely nothing to do with.

“People have raped, molested kids, taken lives, and have 15, 20, 25 years. And I made a mistake and tried to steal some money and I am given my entire life in prison.

“I acknowledge that I did something wrong, I take responsibility. But I also believe I completed the punishment.”

Now 38, Lima-Marin had been fighting for his freedom ever since.

“The government — not Lima-Marin, his family, the community, and society — should bear the brunt of the consequences of its conscience-shocking deliberate indifference,” Samour wrote.

Earlier this month, lawmakers in the State Senate unanimously passed a resolution to push for Gov. John Hickenlooper to release Lima-Marin.

“The Judicial Branch, not the Executive Branch, is charged with the daunting responsibility of doing justice — lest mercy be confused with justice,” Samour wrote. “To be sure, this case presents a rather difficult and complicated issue that places the Court in a catch-22 mousetrap.

“But that does not mean the Court should punt to the Executive Branch. There is a way for the Court to dispense justice in this case: by ordering the release of Lima-Marin.”