The Denver Post
GRAND JUNCTION — When Robert "Rider" Dewey walks out of court today a free man for the first time in more than 16 years, he already has a list of to-do's for his first 24 hours.
He has told his parents, who drove here from California to celebrate his release, that he is craving a filet mignon for dinner tonight. He actually couldn't remember the term for that prime cut of beef that was so far removed from his diet in prison. So he told them "one of those little steaks wrapped in bacon."
That illustrates the joy and also the disconnect Dewey is going to face as he re-enters a free world, his parents said. There are now, at least to him, many new gizmos like cell phones and computers to learn. He'll have to figure out how to shop in a grocery store. He will need to practice driving again, said his parents Jim and Donna Weston of Ridgecrest, Calif.
The Westons learned Tuesday that their son was going to be freed based on new DNA evidence that exonerated him of the 1994 murder and sexual assault of a Palisade woman. The new evidence led to the arrest of another man with no connection to Dewey.
The Westons loaded up their motor home and drove the 761 miles from their home in the middle of the Mojave Desert to be here to be waiting when the 51-year-old son they call "Rob" walks out of court a free man. They drove straight to the Mesa County Jail where Dewey is being held until his court hearing today and were granted an immediate two-and-a-half-hour visit with him.
"He's doing good. He's very thankful. He's not angry," said Jim Weston, an associate pastor at a nondenominational church in Ridgecrest and Dewey's step-father for 24 years.
Dewey's biological father and step-mother live in Kansas City, but could not make the trip to Grand Junction because Dewey's father underwent back surgery days ago.
Donna Weston said when Dewey walks out of the Mesa County Justice Center today he is is also looking forward to lounging on a couch — a real couch — where he can indulge in some of the chocolate chip cookies she brought him.
Tomorrow, he has doctor's appointments. He injured his back and had surgery while in prison and he is going to need further surgery.
Then he will need to get identification so that he can fly to an undisclosed location where he plans to live with a friend. His mother said before he leaves he will receive his first cell phone and possibly use computer for the first time.
Dewey earned his GED while in prison, but was not trained in any workplace skills because he was serving a life sentence. His jobs while in prison included sewing pants and cleaning bathrooms.
Dewey never wavered in declaring his innocence — part of the reason his case garnered attention from the Innocence Project and the law enforcement agencies that collaborated to reinvestigate his case. And his parents said they never wavered in believing in his innocence and never stopped praying for an exoneration.
"Never, never, never did I believe my son would do something like that," Donna Weston said.
The Westons said they, and Dewey, have also long been praying for the family of victim Jacie Taylor, who was 19 at the time of her death.
Randy Brown, one of the attorneys who represented Dewey when he was convicted, said he spoke to him in the jail this morning and that he is "excited and nervous."
"He is coming into a totally different world," Brown said.
Brown said Dewey told him his longterm wish is "to blend into society as best I can."
Who is the Colorado Criminal Justice Reform Coalition?
Our chief areas of interest include drug policy reform, women in prison, racial injustice, the impact of incarceration on children and families, the problems associated with re-entry and stopping the practice of using private prisons in our state.
If you would like to be involved please go to our website and become a member.
Monday, April 30, 2012
The Denver Post