AURORA, Colo. – A clerical error led to a man’s release from jail 90 years before his term was up. It wasn’t until nearly six years later that Colorado authorities discovered the error and sent the man, who had turned his life around and was now a married father, back to prison to serve out the remainder of his 98-year sentence.
Rene Lima-Marin was 20 years old in 2000 when he and Michael Clifton were convicted on multiple robbery, kidnapping and burglary charges for a pair of robberies of Aurora video stores.
In one of the assaults, the two men ordered employees into a backroom at gunpoint, forced one employee to the floor and demanded money from a safe.
Both Lima-Marin and Clifton were sentenced on eight convictions, which they were to serve consecutively over a total of 98 years.
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A court clerk, however, mistakenly recorded in the file that the eight convictions were to be served at the same time.
In 2008, when Lima-Marin had served out the length of one eight-year conviction, he was released from prison on parole.
Notably, Clifton had previously filed an appeal in his case, which led to the discovery of the error in his file. The sentence was adjusted to reflect the 98-year prison term that had initially been intended to be; thus, in 2008, Clifton was not released from prison, as Lima-Marin was.
Lima-Marin filed an appeal of his own in 2000, but, in a highly unusual move, asked that his appeal be dismissed less than a year later. Prosecutors are now pointing to his dismissal request as evidence that Lima-Marin was aware of the clerical error before his release, and that he attempted to prevent drawing attention to the error.
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Newly released from prison, Lima-Marin set about rebuilding his life.
The now 35-year-old man became skilled at cutting and installing windows; he became involved in church, and was helping coach soccer. He reconnected with his former girlfriend, Jasmine Lima-Marin. The couple was married in July, a date that also marked the completion of five years of parole.
The couple was raising Jasmine’s 7-year-old son, Justus, and had a son of their own, Josiah, who is now 4.
Lima-Marin, however, was notably absent from Josiah’s birthday party.
He was back in jail.
A former prosecutor who had handled Lima-Marin’s case noticed the clerical error that had led to Lima-Marin’s early release, and notified Arapahoe County senior deputy district attorney Rich Orman in January.
A judge agreed to Orman’s motion to send Lima-Marin back to prison.
Orman noted that Lima-Marin had committed “a number of very serious criminal offenses,” and stated that he “should not be able to escape the minimum sentence due to a clerical error.”
As Jasmine said, “He was given an opportunity to live again and it was taken away from him.”
Unfortunately for the largely reformed man, good behavior outside of prison is not taken into consideration in cases involving people who were improperly released from prison due to human error.
In April, Lima-Marin’s public defender requested that Lima-Marin be released. Noting that Lima Marin had remained silent about his early release, however, a judge turned down the request.
He now faces nine more decades in jail; his wife and children face nine more decades of living without their husband and father. Jasmine, who has said that his clean life after prison shows that he has already been sufficiently punished, is considering another appeal and has already reached out to an attorney.
“That was his life, raising his kids and being a husband,” Jasmine said. “He definitely was not the same person that he was when he went in to prison.”