News 07.20.07

Denver DA reexamines 1987 murder; lawmaker calls for better evidence preservation

Timothy Masters was convicted in 1999 for the murder of a 37-year-old woman in Fort Collins, Colorado, 12 years earlier. Masters, who was 15 at the time of the murder, became a suspect because he lived near the field where the victim’s body was found. He was not arrested, however, until an analysis of his teenage artwork was examined in 1998 and a psychologist connected the artwork to alleged violent tendencies. Masters was convicted by a jury and sentenced to life. But before the conviction of Masters, investigators had uncovered a possible alternate suspect. Evidence collected from the home of this suspect had been burned by police shortly after the suspect committed suicide. The evidence destruction had been ordered by the detective who had investigated Masters for 12 years.

The Denver Post published

an article on Sunday about the Masters case

, and the Adams County District Attorney’s Office

said Tuesday

it would investigate possible DNA testing on evidence from the crime scene. While evidence from the alternate suspect’s house was burned, evidence from the 1987 scene has been retained.

Read more

.

Also this week, a Colorado state representative called for the creation of statewide standards requiring police departments to preserve evidence. Cheri Jahn said that in the light of the Masters investigation, it was clear that inconsistent police practices can lead to "inconsistent justice."

Jahn said she will introduce legislation in January and call for a series of hearings to investigate the depth of the problem.

"The guidelines for keeping evidence are carved in candle- wax," Jahn said in a news release. "They can be molded to fit anyone's agenda or ambition."


Read the full story here

. (Denver Post, 07/18/07)


Read more about evidence preservation here

.

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