In­mate asks judge to grant a sec­ond chance

Man had been re­leased decades early from prison

The Denver Post - - NEWS - By Danika Wor­thing­ton

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

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