Thursday, February 26, 2009

Tim Masters Serves As An Example Of Why A Presumption of Innocence Is So Important


One reader emailed legalpub@legalpub.net and asked "Why do you always say suspects are innocent until proven guilty?


The best way to answer this readers question is to look at what can happen with potentially false accusations. Tim Masters was falsely charged with murder. Now that he has apparently been exonerated, he blames Fort Collins, Colorado, police and prosecutors for his less then happy life.
Tim Masters actually went to prison before he was exonerated. Now, a year later, he struggles to find good employment. He appears greatful to Richard and Selma Eikelenboom, the Dutch forensic scientists who discovered the DNA evidence that exonerated him. Nevertheless, he remains bitter over his imprisonment.

So how did he initially end up in prison? In 1987, a maimed body of Peggy Hettrick, was found near Tim Master's home. At the time, Masters was only 15. Nevertheless, he became the focus for suspician. But it was not until 1999 that Masters was convicted and sentenced to life in prison. In the fall of 2007, Masters' attorneys accused the police and prosecutor of misconduct in the investigation and trial. In January 2008, a judge overturned the conviction because DNA evidence pointed to a killer other than Masters.


Currently Masters has a civil lawsuit against some of the police officers and former prosecutors. The main allegation is "malicious prosecution." Masters is represented by attorney Maria Liu.




Given what has happened to Masters, it does not hurt to remind readers of the presumption of innocence. Allegations are just that. They are not facts until they are proven. It is better that 100 guilty men be turned free then to have one man wrongfully convicted.

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

Good reminder!

sarah said...

The idea of being falsely imprisoned gives me the creeps.

Sarah

Anonymous said...

Did he Master the system?

Ms Calabaza said...

Good point. We need to be reminded of that every once in a while.

Anonymous said...

Was he a Master debater?

Anonymous said...

yah right...