Man freed by court mistake sent back for 90 years

AURORA, CO (KDVR) — 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.

By Tammy Vigil

9 comments

  • dave

    call eric holder he will help you out.A bad attorney is no excuse,its your attorney.Now would you like a wah burger and some french cries with that sir.

    • Paul

      Of course an incompetent attorney creates grounds for a retrial. Where did you go to law school dip shyt?

      • Vastly Amused

        A Strickland claim requires more than his appellant lawyer telling him the judge ran the sentences concurrently, particularly since Lima-Marin would have been in the courtroom when the judge sentenced him. And it’s doubtful such a claim would succeed, since it was his appeals attorney, not his trail attorney, that made that mistake(see “Coleman v. Thompson”, 501 U. S. 722). However, he might be able to raise that issue if he can show that “Martinez v. Ryan (2012)” S.Ct, applies.
        An it is possible that that he can claim that “ends of justice” requires the courts to allow him to file the appeal he (apparently) dropped on the advice of his appellant attorney. If that doesn’t work, he can always try a writ of habeas corpus.

  • SP

    This is insane to me. He served his time, was released, and became a productive citizen. He didn’t re-offend, commit any new crimes, or violate any laws once his time was served. So why has that not been taken into consideration?
    We always want jail/prison to be a place of rehabilitation, which seemed to have happened here. So we send him back? Not acceptable. And yes, I work in corrections.

  • jenny

    I agree with SP. Why is this man back in prison? I don’t care if there was a “clerical error”, the man served ten years and got out, and has never repeated his crime. What’s really going on here. The judge get up on the wrong side of the bed that day? The judge have a personal grudge? And what brought this “error” to the light in the first place? Has the person responsible for that error been disciplined? This sentence is extreme and excessive. Sounds more like this guy is being made an example of. I hope he gets a great attorney, appeals this b.s., and is released. This is a miscarriage of justice.

  • Ed

    Anyone have the links for the Site they setup. Best way to handle this is to help with the donations and add our name to the list. Put this in front of as many eyes as we can.

  • Cindy Weatherford

    This is where our tax dollars go? Shouldn’t prison be a rehabilitation process? he obviously has turned his life around and does not deserve to spend the rest of his life in prison, his crimes did not involve murdering anyone, where is that petition I want to sign it! He is right his wife and son do not deserve to suffer makes much more sense to let him out so he can provide the financial and emotional support that his family needs, anyone with half a brain knows this. LET HIM OUT!

  • EBANKS

    WHAT ABOUT MICHEAL CLIFTON (YOUR BEST FRIEND) THAT YOU LEFT BEHIND 6 YRS AGO WHEN YOU WERE FREED AND HE DIDNT GET THE OPERTUNITY TO CHANGE HIS LIFE AND HAVE A SECOND CHANCE. HE WAS THE SAME AGE AS YOU WHEN YOU WERE LOCKED UP AND HE ALREADY HAD TWO CHILDREN AND NEVER HAD A CHANCE TO WATCH THEM GROW OR WATCH HIS OLDEST SON GRADUATE.
    YOU BETTER BELIVE THIS THERE IS A REASON FOR EVERYTHING AND I HOPE YOU DO GET OUT BECAUSE IF YOU GET OUT THEN MICHEAL CLIFTON DOC # 104975 SHOULD GET OUT TOO.

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