David Lane has taken on Tim Masters' case. I would imagine that now, Tim will win.
DENVER — Timothy Masters on Tuesday sued Fort Collins, multiple police officers, prosecutors and judges in a long-expected federal civil rights lawsuit claiming he was wrongfully convicted for the 1987 murder of Peggy Hettrick.
Masters spent nearly 10 years in prison before his 1999 conviction was overturned this January by a judge who concluded he didn't get a fair trial.Masters did not request a specific dollar amount in his federal suit, which claims police, prosecutors and their superiors engaged in a "conspiracy" to railroad him to conviction, and then keep him locked up despite evidence showing his innocence.
"I don't think it's about punishment. I think it's about making some atonement, some compensation, for 10 years of wrongful incarceration, trying to give me back a little of what I lost," Masters said.
None of the people named in Masters' suit offered comment or reaction Tuesday, other than to say they could not comment on pending litigation or had not yet seen the suit.
Masters was 15 when Hettrick's mutilated body was found in a Fort Collins field. An expert initially consulted by police said the mutilations to Hettrick's body would have required specialized skill and were likely done by a right-handed person.
Masters, now 37, is left-handed, but jurors in the case never heard about that expert’s opinion because the information was never turned over to his defense attorneys.
Instead, police crafted an arrest warrant for Masters that specifically noted the killer was left-handed.
Additionally, a forensic psychologist who testified as a star witness for prosecutors used information given to him by police and prosecutors to build a profile of Hettrick’s killer that matched Masters.
But this summer, Dr. Reid Meloy told Masters’ legal team that had he known all the details about the scene of Hettrick’s death, he would have recommended against arresting Masters, attorney David Lane said.
Further, Lane said, a “guilt-ridden” Meloy said he would have told police to look at Dr. Richard Hammond, an eye surgeon whose house overlooked the field where Hettrick’s body was found.
“I want the citizens of Larimer County to hold a torchlight parade to city hall demanding justice for Tim Masters,” Lane said during a Tuesday news conference announcing the lawsuit. “I want to see Fort Collins do the right thing by Tim Masters. Let’s see them stand up and do the right thing.”
Lane acknowledged he wants residents of Larimer County and Fort Collins to pressure elected officials, from the county commissioners to the mayor to District Attorney Larry Abrahamson, to offer a financial settlement to Masters.
He repeatedly noted that taxpayers will foot the “very large” legal bills likely to be run up by the government defending itself.