Finally, someone freed through DNA Says It: Hell yes, I’m bitter

Tim Masters squarely blames Fort Collins, Colorado, police and prosecutors for his inability to land gainful employment and for his not having a wife and kids at this stage in his life.

In 1987, Masters became the prime suspect in the slaying of Peggy Hettrick, a 37-year-old found in a field near his house….

Masters was convicted of murder in 1999, but a judge last year threw out the conviction and released him from prison, citing new evidence that did not implicate Masters. Masters now has a lawsuit pending against several police officers, ex-prosecutors and the city….

In hearings that began in September 2007, Masters’ new defense team alleged police and prosecutorial misconduct in the investigation and trial.

In January 2008, a judge threw out the conviction and freed Masters after DNA evidence pointed to someone else.

Masters’ attorneys last year filed a lawsuit against several Fort Collins, Colorado, police and former prosecutors, alleging malicious prosecution, attorney Maria Liu says. The suit is in its pre-discovery phase….

CNN: You spent some prime years of your life — late 20s, early 30s — in jail for a crime you didn’t commit. What do you think you missed most by not being a free man in those years?

Masters: There’s so much. Right off the top, I’d say having a family. I think they’re very much responsible for me not having a family right now, a wife and kids. But it goes back further than just them arresting me. It goes all the way back to my high school days when they labeled me a murder suspect among all my peers and my teachers and everything. It goes back a long time.

CNN: Any hard feelings toward the Fort Collins Police Department or the prosecutors in the case?

Masters: Oh, absolutely. They locked me up for a decade for something I didn’t do.

It has always amazed me how, when DNA exonerates someone, the press reports that he/she is not bitter. I always figure that’s the lawyers talking. I cannot possibly believe that someone spends years behind bars for a crime he didn’t commit and is not bitter. I have always assumed that he is bitter but that his lawyers have advised him never to say that.

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