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Man freed on DNA evidence sues cops, prosecutors

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Posted: October 22, 2008 1:47 p.m.
Updated: November 6, 2008 5:00 a.m.
    DENVER — The first person released from prison in Colorado because of DNA evidence is suing police and prosecutors who worked to put him behind bars.
    Lawyers for Tim Masters filed suit in federal court Tuesday, claiming hundreds of documents and expert opinions that pointed toward his innocence in a murder case were withheld from his lawyers.
    After 10 years behind bars, Masters was freed from prison in January because advanced DNA evidence failed to connect him to the death of Peggy Hettrick in Fort Collins.
    Prosecutors alleged that Masters killed Hettrick in 1987 when he was 15. He was convicted 12 years later.
    Fort Collins police and Larimer County prosecutors declined to comment, saying they don’t discuss pending litigation.
    In September, Colorado’s Supreme Court censured two former prosecutors for failing to turn over information to Masters’ attorneys. The former prosecutors, who both are now judges, acknowledged in an agreement with the Supreme Court’s Office of Attorney Regulation that they failed to ensure defense attorneys received several key pieces of information that called into question Masters’ guilt.
    The lawsuit says the withheld evidence included the existence of another suspect, who lived near the spot where Hettrick’s body was found and was later charged with secretly videotaping women who used his bathroom.
    The suit also says an FBI profiler disagreed with the opinion of the prosecution’s star witness, criminal psychologist Reid Meloy, on Masters’ violent teenage drawings. According to the suit, Meloy now says that prosecutors ‘‘intentionally manipulated’’ his opinion by only giving him a portion of the evidence available and misrepresenting the physical evidence.

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