Report cites flaws but no malfeasance in Masters case
BY TREVOR HUGHES
The special prosecutor who reviewed allegations of misconduct against Fort Collins police Lt. James Broderick during the Timothy Masters prosecution found "disturbing" flaws in the case that could have altered the outcome, but concluded no criminal charges are warranted.
Weld County District Attorney Ken Buck said problems with the crime-scene analysis, turnover among lead detectives and the 11-year delay between the 1987 fatal stabbing and mutilation of Petty Hettrick and Masters' 1988 arrest "compounded" the flaws, which he called misfeasance, not malfeasance.
Masters was convicted by a jury and spent nearly 10 years in prison before new DNA testing techniques pointed toward a different suspect.
"You have to come to the conclusion, as I did, that people made mistakes in this case," Buck said Tuesday. "I don't think the mistakes were minor."
In Broderick's case, Buck said the detective failed to testify completely about shoeprint evidence that could have exonerated Masters.
'Much closer case'
Police and prosecutors persuaded a jury that Masters, then 15, snuck out of the trailer home he shared with his father, snuck up behind Hettrick as she walked alongside a field, stabbed her in the back, sexually mutilated her, then snuck back home without leaving any physical evidence directly tying him to her death.
Buck also noted - as have other special prosecutors - that evidence that should have been given to defense attorneys was never made available to either prosecutors or defense attorneys by police.
Specifically, Buck noted that police never provided a complete transcript of a recorded conversation between Masters and his father, Clyde, the day after Hettrick's body was found. A copy of the recording itself was given to both prosecutors and defenders.