By Kelly Werthmann
DENVER (CBS4)– The Colorado Supreme Court is considering whether to free a convict who was sent back to prison after he was mistakenly released 90 years early.
An attorney for Rene Lima-Marin told the court Thursday that it was cruel and unusual punishment to put him back behind bars after he started a family and reformed his life.
“To give a person the opportunity to taste freedom, to go out and get married and have children and do all these things, and then rip that all away from them in the blink of an eye and say ‘Well, that was our error, but you and all of your dependents have to suffer for it,’” Patrick Megaro, Lima-Marin’s attorney, told the high court, “That’s what makes this particularly cruel.”
A judge in 2000 sentenced Lima-Marin to a total of 98 years in prison for multiple counts of robbery, kidnapping and burglary after he and another man robbed two video stores at gunpoint. But a clerk’s mistake allowed him to be paroled in 2008.
Lima-Marin held a job, married and had a son before authorities realized the mistake.
“He never once got in any further trouble,” Megaro said Thursday. “I think that’s the difference that makes the difference.”
Assistant Attorney General Kathy Gillespie says the case was an unfortunate mistake, but not misconduct.
“The sentence the trial court imposed in 200 was a lawful sentence,” Gillespie said. “In fact, it was the mandatory minimum sentence that he got.”
CBS4 spoke to Lima-Marin’s wife, Jasmine, months after her husband was taken back to prison in 2014.
“It’s been very hard not having him around,” Jasmine said. “He is not the same person that he was then.”
Jasmine created an online petition asking Colorado’s attorney general to release her husband. As of Thursday, more than 280,000 people had signed the petition.
Lima-Marin is currently behind bars at the Kit Carson Correctional Facility in Burlington. It is not clear when the high court will make a decision.
Kelly Werthmann joined the CBS4 team in 2012 as the morning reporter, covering national stories like the Aurora Theater Shooting and devastating Colorado wildfires. She now reports for CBS4 News at 10 and is always open to story ideas. Connect with her on Facebook or Twitter @KellyCBS4.