- Associated Press - Thursday, November 26, 2015

GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. (AP) - More than 20 years after a Palisade woman was found strangled with a dog leash in her bathtub, a Mesa County jury has convicted a second man of her murder.

The conviction Wednesday of 43-year-old Douglas Thames came three years after another man was exonerated for the crime, The (Grand Junction) Daily Sentinel reported (https://bit.ly/21i8Vwj). DNA evidence found at the scene cleared Robert “Rider” Dewey, who had served 18 years in prison for the death of Jacie Taylor.

Taylor’s mother, Jackie Kuntz, addressed Thames and the wrongful conviction in the courtroom.

“I think you are a very small man to make Mr. Dewey stay in prison for 18 years, and I will pray for you,” Kuntz told Thames.

Thames was already serving a sentence for the rape and strangulation death of a Fort Collins woman.

Thames immediately was sentenced to a term of life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Mesa County District Judge Richard Gurley said the evidence in the case indicated a “brutal, brutal killing of this young woman” and he said a lesser sentence would be “an insult to the jury’s findings.”

Thames chose not to speak at his hearing or testify during trial. Dewey did not testify.

Kuntz told the newspaper after the hearing that “my heart broke for (Robert Dewey) and his family.”

“This is closure for him, too, I hope,” she said of Dewey. “I truly believe in the justice system.”

Thames is serving a life prison term for the 1989 murder of Susan Doll in Fort Collins. Thames’ new sentence is consecutive to his current sentence, meaning he is no longer eligible for parole.

Doll’s murder shared similarities with Taylor’s murder, said Mesa County Assistant District Attorney Richard Tuttle, who also prosecuted Dewey for Taylor’s murder.

“This is justice delayed, not justice denied,” he said.

Taylor was found strangled with a dog leash in her bathtub on June 4, 1994.

Thames was not on law enforcement’s radar at the time, but he lived near the apartment where Taylor was murdered, investigators later determined.

Dewey inspired a 2013 Colorado law to compensate people wrongly convicted.

Dewey received $1.2 million from the state, which is being paid in yearly increments of $100,000, minus federal taxes.


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