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Exonerated man awarded $10 million for wrongful conviction

Timothy Masters has lived every person's worst nightmare. Masters spent more than ten years in prison for a crime he did not commit. He was wrongfully convicted in 1999 of the 1987 murder of Peggy Hettrick. Now, the Colorado government seeks to make amends.

They started with an award of monetary damages. He was awarded $5.9 million from the City of Fort Collins. Another $4.1 million came from the Eighth Judicial District of Larimer County. Only Timothy Masters can say if $10 million is worth ten years of his life and the destruction of his good name.

He may be able to begin getting his good name back, however. Masters has been officially exonerated of the murder of Peggy Hettrick by Colorado Attorney General John Suthers. He also got an apology from the Fort Collins' interim police chief on behalf of the city of Fort Collins and the Fort Collins Police Services. The apology was also extended to Masters' family and friends.

A grand jury was convened to reexamine the evidence in the Hettrick case. After hearing testimony from numerous witnesses, a reexamination of the crime scene, and forensic analysis, the only possible conclusion is that Timothy Masters did not kill Peggy Hettrick.

Though the money and exoneration help, Timothy Masters has a lot more work to do to rebuild his life. So much has changed in the world in the last ten years, he has a lot of catching up to do. Besides being behind his generation in the workforce, he will have to learn quickly to compete with younger generations in technology and education.

Also left hanging is Peggy Hettrick's family. Instead of closure, their wounds have been ripped open again and they have to live through Peggy's murder again and again through a new trial, if the Fort Collins police can find a new suspect.

Whenever someone is wrongfully convicted of a crime, it leaves the actual perpetrator to go free. Our hearts go out to all involved.

Source: Denver Westword, "Timothy Masters exonerated by Colorado AG John Suthers in Peggy Hettrick murder" Michael Roberts, June 29, 2011

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