Inmate asks judge to grant a second chance
Man had been released decades early from prison
centennial» A man sentenced to 98 years in prison but then mistakenly released decades early appealed to a judge Wednesday to allow him to return to the law-abiding life he built during his brief period of freedom.
But Rene Lima-Marin’s fate remains in limbo three years after he was returned to prison when a former prosecutor discovered the clerical error. During an evidentiary hearing for writ of habeas corpus, Judge Carlos Samour Jr. said he’d take his time before issuing an order at the Arapahoe County District Court.
“I’m not going to give you a time frame because I want to take my time with it,” Samour said.
Lima-Marin, 38, was sentenced to 98 years for his role in a pair of 1998 video store robberies when he was 19 years old. No one was hurt during the robberies and Lima-Marin claimed the gun used was unloaded.
“I’ve been taken away from my children and my wife. I don’t even know how to explain that that’s the thing that’s consistently on my mind every single day,” Lima-Marin said during the hearing as emotion washed over both him and the courtroom. “I’m supposed to be the head of my household, I’m the person … I’m the person that’s supposed to guide and lead them of everything that’s of God, and I’ve been taken away from them.”
In a surprising turn, Lima-Marin was released in 2008 when a clerical error counted his eight sentences concurrently instead of consecutively.
Once released, he had five spotless years on parole, rose through low-wage work to a union job as a glazier, married and raised two sons in a home he bought in Aurora.
But Lima-Marin’s second chance was taken away when his accidental release was discovered in 2014 after his former prosecutor happened to check on his whereabouts. His sentence was reinstated and he was brought back to prison.
Lima-Marin’s wife, Jasmine, said she felt confident after the hearing, although she said she wished her husband was coming home immediately. Wednesday was the first time in months that she had seen her husband in person.
“I would probably prefer that (the judge) takes his time and considers everything,” she said. “I’m still hoping for a positive outcome.”
Lima-Marin’s family and friends, along with faith leaders from Together Colorado, gathered in front of the courthouse Wednesday morning to share prayers and express hope for his release.
“We’ve been waiting three years for this hearing, and I’m just praying that today he gets to come home,” Jasmine said while tearing up. “Today is pretty much the determining factor of what’s going to happen to our family for the rest of our lives.”
As the faith leaders called on God’s strength, forgiveness and justice, Lima-Marin’s parents held “Free Rene” signs. His mother looked to the sky, saying her own silent prayer with tears in her eyes.
After the calls for justice, more than 35 people packed into the courtroom to show their support for Lima-Marin, who was wearing a light-gray sports jacket, black slacks and decora-
Jasmine Lima-Marin, left, hugs her mother-in-law, Maria Paez, during an early-morning prayer service at the Arapahoe County District Court before a hearing for Lima-Marin’s husband, Rene. He was sentenced to 98 years in prison, was mistakenly released decades early and was rearrested after marrying and spending five spotless years on parole. Joe Amon, The Denver Post