Dewey wants slay case erased
'If I didn't do the crime, why have it on my record?' he asks
A man who was wrongfully imprisoned nearly 16 years for the 1994 rape and murder of a Palisade woman wants to erase the case — at least in the eyes of the law.
Through an attorney, Robert “Rider” Dewey, 51, filed Monday at the Mesa County Justice Center a petition seeking to seal all arrest and criminal records in the possession of Mesa County courts, the Mesa County Sheriff’s Department, the Mesa County District Attorney’s Office, Palisade Police Department and the Colorado Bureau of Investigation.
“Petitioner was completely exonerated of the charges in this case,” the filing reads. “These charges are the most serious charges which can be filed against someone in the State of Colorado and because of the petitioner’s actual innocence, he requests these records be sealed.”
Assistant District Attorney Rich Tuttle, who prosecuted Dewey at trial in 1996 in Mesa County before helping to free Dewey from prison, said Tuesday he’s researching the issue and will file a formal response later this week.
Ironically, Tuttle personally handles all requests to the local DA’s office to seal criminal records.
Dewey was formally exonerated April 30 in Mesa County on convictions of first-degree murder and first-degree sexual assault in connection with the slaying of 19-year-old Palisade resident Jacie Taylor. She was brutally murdered in her apartment in June 1994. Dewey was cleared after modern, discriminating DNA showed no trace of Dewey in the apartment, while pointing at a new suspect, 40-year-old Douglas Thames. Thames, who wasn’t contacted in the original police investigation despite living across the street from Taylor, is serving life in prison for the murder of Fort Collins resident Susan Doll.
Dewey, now a resident of Colorado Springs who remains uncompensated financially by Mesa County or the state of Colorado, said his conviction information has been removed from the Colorado Bureau of Investigation’s sex-offender registry and his DNA has been removed from a state offender database.
The conviction still shows up in a regular background check, Dewey noted.
“This is the last piece,” he said of his request to seal the records. “It’s my right. If I didn’t do the crime, why have it on my record?”
“Filling out a job application, (employers) assume the police are never wrong,” he added, laughing.
Dewey said he recently learned his monthly food stamp payments will soon be slashed to $89 per month, compared to the $600-plus monthly checks he had been receiving.
“That, at least, is non-appealable,” he said.
Dewey’s petition is scheduled for a hearing in February before District Judge Richard Gurley.