By Nate Taylor
An internal investigation by Fort Collins police has cleared Lt. Jim Broderick of violating any department policies or procedures stemming from his involvement in the Timothy Masters case.
Fort Collins police Chief Dennis Harrison said Broderick has been exonerated of violating any department policies.
“That’s no surprise,” Masters said in a phone interview after hearing about the findings of the investigation.
Masters was convicted by a jury in 1999 for the 1987 stabbing death of Peggy Hettrick.
He was 15 at the time of the murder, and no physical evidence tied him to Hettrick.
A judge in January threw out his conviction, saying that DNA evidence pointed toward another suspect and that Masters didn’t get a fair trial, though Masters has not been declared innocent.
Broderick, a detective at the time, was the lead investigator in the case when it was presented to the jury.
“The investigation was not about wrong-doing,” said Harrison, who also said the decision was reached about three weeks ago but not disclosed because the Coloradoan had not asked about it recently. “It was about what the focus of the investigation was. It was about policy violations.”
Police didn’t look at wrong-doing because that was the focus of a special investigation by Weld District Attorney Ken Buck.
Buck concluded that, while there were problems in the initial Masters investigation — particularly in crime-scene management and turnover among lead investigators, there were no crimes committed that he felt could be presented to a court for prosecution.
According to Buck’s report: “Some facets of the investigation and prosecution of the Peggy Hettrick homicide are disturbing. ... After consideration of the evidence, I did not discover criminal conduct among employees of the Fort Collins Police Department or the prosecutors in the case. Based on my review, I believe the deficiencies in this case were the result of misfeasance not malfeasance.”
While malfeasance is illegal action, misfeasance is doing something technically legal but still wrong, according to legal experts.