Court mistake sets man free, but he’s been sent back for 90 years after turning life around

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AURORA, Colo. -- An Aurora man who turned his life around after a court error set him free is back behind bars for 90 years. It’s inside the Kit Carson Correctional Center in Burlington where he spoke to us about why he deserves a second chance.

Rene Lima-Marin was 19 years old when he robbed two video stores at gunpoint one day 15 years ago.

He served 10 years of what he thought was a 16-year sentence before a judge sent him back to prison in January.

"It's that every day, happy, white-picket-fence type of life," says Lima-Marin, about the world he created with a wife and two kids after leaving prison nearly six years ago.

It’s a life he never imagined could be his as a convicted felon.

"What makes this that much harder, is the fact I constantly have them right here,” as he points to his head.

That life vanished overnight January 7, when a judge in the 18th Judicial District sent him back to prison to finish a 98-year sentence.

"98 years for what? You know, for what?" he says with disbelief.

He says his appeals lawyer told him 13 years earlier that his sentence was just 16 years.

"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.

"I would have never had a wife. I would have never had children. I would have never bought a house. I would have never done any of those things. But I did those because you let me out. And now they are being punished for something they had absolutely nothing to do with," he says about his family.

It’s a punishment he says is excessive.

"People have raped, molested kids, taken lives and 15, 20, 25 years. And I made a mistake and tried to steal some money and I am given my entire life in prison? It just doesn't make sense," he says.

He also says the rifle he used wasn’t loaded and no one was hurt.

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.

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.

Lima-Marin and his family say the punishment is wrong.

"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.

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.

Lima-Marin served 10 years with exemplary behavior—not written up even once. And when he got out, he pledged he’d never do anything to go back.

"That's all I want people to see, is that I'm not that guy. I don't deserve 98 years. I deserve the time that I did," he says.

He just wants justice.

And he hopes the same justice system that put him in here, lets him out.

He believes it will happen.

"I have complete 100 percent faith that God is going to bring me out of this. It's just a matter of the when," he says.

Lima-Marin won’t even be eligible for parole until the year 2054—40 years from now—when he’s 75.

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.



  • Alexei

    Oh good grief. The guy’s rehabilitated, working, and paying taxes. He’s already served a chunk of time that’s appropriate for what he did. Why does anyone want to put him back where it costs taxpayers thousands of dollars per year to keep him locked up?

  • Fast45

    Okay, so he was set free on a mistake, and probably deserves more time … but this seems excessive by today’s standards. After all, our legislature won’t put repeat DUI offenders behind bars, because “it is too expensive.” Cops routinely beat up innocent civilians, and are always armed when they commit those crimes, but nothing is done, most of the time. Maybe the governor could take another look at this sentence …

  • Football Fillibuster

    That rapist in Montana only got 30 days, that rich guy who molested his own children didn’t get any time. The rich teenager driving drunk who killed 4 people didn’t get any time. The “justice” system is a for profit enterprise just like everything else in America. Private prisons require bodies to be profitable. Keep telling yourself the legal system has anything to do with justice and the prison system is about rehabilitation.

  • Roxi

    Wow! I think he paid his debt to society. Let him get on with his life. I don’t understand how they can punish him again, especially after he got his life together. What about all the worthless repeat offenders they keep letting out that prove that they can’t be responsible, upstanding citizens?

  • theplatinumarchitect

    Reblogged this on POWER OF PERSPECTIVE and commented:
    There are murderers, rapist and drug dealers that get less time. Some of them have positions of power in our Government. This man deserves a second chance. Something isnt right here and this story needs to spread like wildfire. THIS is a man that I would say “Bring him back home.”

    What the hell is wrong with our “justice system”?

  • Anna Eppelein

    I believe he has served his time , let him go back to the good life he has made with his family.

  • sly311

    The same system that released Eben Ebel who went on to kill the head of the Dept of Corrections and a pizza delivery guy. The same system who in Montana gave a rapist 30 days in jail and the 14-year old victim then hung herself. Yep. The same “justice” system. Is there no lawyer out there with a half a brain waiting to take this case? Shame on the courts and Hickenlooper who couldn’t carry out Dunlop’s death sentence. Shame shame shame.

  • annpirie

    The system needs to own this mistake. This is a terrible situation wherein this guy has rehabilitated and is a productive member of society. Own it, 18th Judicial District.

  • sha

    yep, he turned his life around but he was also a fugitive once he did not turn himself in. All that happend was he got lucky that the system messed up, and it also caught up to him. So I guess he thought they just forgave him and that was all, nope? sorry folks, he didn’t serve his time. 90 years is excessive and yes the things he has accomplised should be taken into consideratoin when sentencing him but to say he’s done his time, nope. So I guess we should release all of the inmates and give them the same opportunity since so many feel so strongly that he’s made penance for his wrongdoings….. my opinion, any commentary about it falls on deaf ears.

    • ladycat713

      He did not “know he was a fugitive”, he was told his time was reduced on appeal to 16 years , he was released on parole after 10 , and he served out his parole . Being on parole means he had a parole officer and all the paperwork indicated that he was parole.

  • Kaitlyn

    I’m signing this because I man changed and deserves better. The reason you go to jail is to “learn your lesson and change”. I would think the judge could agree that he clearly changed. I understand they are saying he was released by mistake but he wasn’t doing anything wrong. That’s what the court should be looking at. Every state has guidelines for crimes, big or small. The judge can choose to alter the sentence but only if there is evidence showing why the person should get more or less time than the guidelines stated. Also when you go to court the judge should acknowledge time served and ten years seems like time served to me. I’m not officially apart of any government career. I don’t know all the details to a lawyers job or a judges job. I’ve just watched the news a lot and know different people which has shown me over time that it doesn’t matter what a person does our system is, for lack of better words, “f***ed up.” People all over get released after doing much worse crimes or just simply get off because they had the money for the best lawyer. It’s not fair. Freedom shouldn’t be based on what your bank account looks like it should be based on your SELF. You as a person. You as a citizen of America. What this man got in the way of punishment, lack of respect and even loss of trust. It’s uncalled for, for the United States of America. He did his time and moved on. He has no respect for the GOOD he’s doing now and he trusted the courts to do what they honored, which was allowing him to get out. The system should not make him pay for their mistake. He served his time. Let the man be FREE.

  • Ed

    It seems absurd to tack on 30 years (10 years per person), for moving 3 people from the front to the back of a store.

    The prosecution had no interest in justice. It simply wanted to get the maximum possible sentence.

    Are there any victims whose lives have been strongly damaged? It seems unlikely. Nor did he intend for that to happen.

    What purpose can be served by keeping him in prison?

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