Friday, July 13, 2007

Nifonged in Fort Collins: "Was this justice real?"

The Rocky Mountain News follows The Fort Collins Weekly's lead with a 2,600 word examination of the nifonging of Timothy Masters entitled "Was this justice real?" Written by Kevin Vaughan, the article cast further doubt on the legitimacy of the police investigation and the prosecutorial tactics employed in convicting Masters for the murder of Peggy Lee Hettrick, who was stabbed to death in 1987.

"Was this justice real?" - Kevin Vaughan, The Rocky Mountain News
Lawyers for Timothy Lee Masters, convicted of the 1987 stabbing death of Peggy Lee Hettrick, continue to press for a new trial, claiming alleged gross irregularities by prosecutors.

A fight to win a new trial for a man convicted in one of the city's most notorious killings has spawned allegations that evidence was lost and destroyed and assertions that police officers and prosecutors colluded to hide information from defense attorneys.

The controversy revolves around the 1999 conviction of Timothy Lee Masters in the murder of Peggy Lee Hettrick, who was stabbed to death in 1987 as she walked home on a moonlit night in south Fort Collins. Masters was 15 at the time, and though he was a prime focus of the investigation from its first hours, it took detectives more than a decade to assemble a circumstantial case against him and file charges.

And when they took the case to a jury, they did not have a single piece of physical evidence tying him to the killing - no murder weapon, no blood, no hair, no fingerprints, no DNA. What they had was circumstantial evidence - he owned knives like the one that killed her, he talked about the difficulty of stabbing someone and he produced hundreds of pages of writings, drawings and doodles, many of them containing disturbing images.

After the trial, one of the officers who helped build the case against him came to believe that she might have sent an innocent man to prison and began work to get Masters a new trial. That effort has led to a flurry of court filings by attorneys working for Masters, laying out a series of allegations:

That prosecutors and police deliberately tried to destroy evidence in 2006 so that it would be useless for highly specialized DNA testing.

That investigators ignored evidence that a Fort Collins doctor, arrested in a sexual exploitation case, could be a potential suspect in Hettrick's death and "burned" all the evidence in that case.

That prosecutors at Masters' trial committed professional misconduct by failing to disclose information about the doctor to the defense.

That prosecutors and police lost evidence - including two hairs found at the crime scene and a bracelet Hettrick was wearing when she was killed.

Click here to read the rest of Vaughan's article which includes a timeline, an outline of the skimpy case presented against Masters, additional details on the alleged prosecutorial misconduct and more.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

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