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Monday, January 14, 2008

Cops In Master's Case Under Investigation

The Weld County district attorney's office is opening a criminal investigation into alleged police misconduct behind Tim Masters' conviction for Peggy Hettrick's 1987 murder.

The Greeley prosecutors accepted the case — examining possible perjury and wiretapping by the Fort Collins police — at the request of Larimer County District Attorney Larry Abrahamson, who wants to avoid charges of conflicts of interest, Masters' attorneys confirmed Sunday.

"Now there is going to be an investigation into whether there's any criminal conduct on behalf of the police," said attorney David Wymore, whose team was recently contacted by the Weld County office.

Masters is attempting to over -turn his 1999 conviction in Larimer County,

  • Watch video of what jurors and the public didn't know at the time of the Tim Masters trial.
citing misconduct by police and prosecutors.

Court hearings involving his appeal resume Jan. 22.

In December, his team filed a complaint with Abrahamson's office, requesting a criminal inquiry into whether Fort Collins police investigator Jim Broderick illegally taped a conversation between Masters, then 15, and his dad, Clyde Masters, at police headquarters 20 years ago.

In the conversation, during a break in his interrogation, Masters repeatedly tells his dad he's innocent. Wymore says a recording of that conversation was made by police — without either Masters' knowledge — but never turned over to Masters' original attorneys.

Wymore also contends in the complaint that Broderick may have perjured himself when he failed to disclose during trial testimony his role in an extensive 1988 surveillance operation of Masters. Details of that police effort also were not disclosed to Masters' original attorneys, it was recently discovered. Broderick has denied any formal role in the surveillance or other improper actions related to the taping.

Authorities could not be reached for comment. The Associated Press reported Sunday that Abrahamson acknowledged asking Weld County to take over the investigation.

A special prosecution team from Adams County already is examining Masters' innocence claims and recently disclosed that Larimer prosecutors violated state discovery law by failing to turn over key pieces of evidence to him. They laid the blame largely with the Fort Collins police, saying they did not provide the Larimer DA with materials, including the surveillance documentation. Under state discovery rules, prosecutors are obligated to seek out such evidence.

Wymore says he hopes the investigation helps hold Fort Collins police accountable for imprisoning an innocent man.

The Denver Post