An Innocent Man Went to Prison for Murder. Now, It’s the Real Killer’s Turn.

An Idaho man was sentenced on Tuesday to life in jail for the rape and homicide of an 18-year-old girl in 1996, a criminal offense for which one other man was wrongfully convicted and incarcerated for 20 years.

The actual perpetrator, Brian Leigh Dripps Sr., in the killing of Angie Dodge of Idaho Falls, Idaho, emerged after her mom sought to have investigators take one other have a look at the case, which modified course because of advances in DNA evaluation and the use of genetic family tree.

That proof linked Mr. Dripps to the crime, not Christopher Tapp, the harmless man who was initially convicted in Ms. Dodge’s killing. Legal advocates stated that the police in Idaho Falls had coerced him into confessing to the crime. Mr. Tapp was exonerated in July 2019 after serving 20 years in jail.

Mr. Dripps, 55, finally confessed to killing Ms. Dodge, although he stated he had meant solely to rape her. He pleaded responsible in February to first-degree homicide and rape. Under the phrases of a plea settlement, he should serve not less than 20 years in jail earlier than he’s eligible for parole.

“A young man spent a significant part of his life in prison for no good reason,” Judge Joel E. Tingey of Idaho’s Seventh District Court stated throughout the sentencing on Tuesday, addressing Mr. Dripps. “He was innocent. That falls on you.”

On June 13, 1996, Ms. Dodge had been sleeping when Mr. Dripps broke into her house in Idaho Falls, raped her after which practically decapitated her, the authorities stated. Her killing went unsolved for a couple of yr, till a buddy of Ms. Dodge’s was arrested in an unrelated rape that additionally concerned a knife.

Mr. Tapp, who was 20 at the time, was mates with the man and had emerged as a suspect himself. Representatives of the Innocence Project, which works to overturn wrongful convictions, stated that investigators had threatened to pursue the dying penalty in opposition to Mr. Tapp and provided him immunity if he confessed to killing Ms. Dodge, which he did and later tried to resign.

Despite DNA proof collected from the crime scene that didn’t match his personal, Mr. Tapp was convicted of rape and homicide in May 1998.

The case regained momentum in 2014 when Carol Dodge, Ms. Dodge’s mom, contacted an knowledgeable on false confessions, who sought the involvement of the Innocence Project. Not satisfied that her daughter’s killer had been introduced to justice due to the lack of a DNA match, she had requested to see the confession tapes.

Ms. Dodge enlisted the assist of a genealogist, who was in a position to create a brand new DNA profile for her daughter’s killer from proof collected at the crime scene. According to an arrest warrant affidavit from 2019, a household tree of potential suspects led to Mr. Dripps, who had lived throughout the avenue from Angie Dodge at the time of her homicide however had moved to Caldwell, Idaho, on the different facet of the state. A discarded cigarette butt from Mr. Dripps matched the DNA proof taken from the crime scene, the affidavit stated.

“I can’t forgive you, ever,” Ms. Dodge informed Mr. Dripps in court docket on Tuesday. “You have shattered our family. And there is no way to pick up the pieces ever again.”

As Ms. Dodge’s members of the family gave sufferer affect statements in court docket on Tuesday, a few of them stated that there was multiple sufferer.

“Chris Tapp should be given the opportunity to voice his nightmare to this court,” Ms. Dodge’s brother Todd Dodge stated. “He served and lost 20 years of his life because of Mr. Dripps.”

Mr. Dripps, whose lawyer stated he was drunk and excessive on cocaine at the time of the crime, apologized to Ms. Dodge’s household at the sentencing.

“I would just like to say that I am sorry,” he stated, including that he knew that the Dodge household wouldn’t forgive him. “I just wish I could do over that night.”

Genetic family tree has been credited with offering investigators with breakthroughs in additional than 40 chilly instances, a majority of them yielding arrests. On event, the course of, which entails evaluating DNA proof with the data in family tree databases, has exonerated these wrongfully convicted. In Ms. Dodge’s killing, it did each.

“Twenty-five years is a long time to wait for some type of closure on such a crime,” Judge Tingey stated simply earlier than sentencing Mr. Dripps. “On such a brutal crime.”