Published: Thu, May 18, 2017
Global News | By Stacy Ballard

Colorado man to be freed early now in immigration custody

AURORA | An Aurora armed robber mistakenly released from prison early who built a successful life and started a family, only to be tossed back in prison when state officials realized their mistake, should be set free, a judge ruled Tuesday.

"Utterly unjust." That's how a Colorado judge describes Rene Lima-Marin's 98-year sentence for robbing two stores, a wrong he's righted after almost two decades.

Lima-Marin, who came to the US from Cuba with his parents when he was a toddler during the 1980 Mariel boat lift, was convicted in 2000 of multiple robbery, kidnapping and burglary counts after he and another man robbed two video stores at gunpoint. Do you think they need to tone it down?

Due to a clerk's error, Lima-Marin's sentences were listed as consecutive instead of concurrent, giving him a 98-year sentence, according to the Denver Post. According to Nolo, when sentences run consecutively, it means that the defendant must serve the sentence for one crime before they can begin serving the sentence for another crime.

Expecting to be reunited with his family after a long, hard fight for freedom, reformed felon Rene Lima-Marin is now facing immigration authorities.

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The decision to release him on Tuesday (May 16) ends years of battles by Lima-Marin to be freed. He then held a steady job installing glass, got married and has a stepson, Justus, 10, and son JoJo, 7, who was born while he was out of prison.

After Lima-Marin served eight years in prison, another error was made. "Because the Court finds that Lima-Marin is being unlawfully detained, he is ordered released".

"His case was unique in that sense", Lima-Marin's attorney Kimberly Diego said. "Not all people who are rehabilitated behave that way". His absence from prison wasn't noticed until 2014 when a former prosecutor searched for his name on the DOC's inmate locator website.

Chief Arapahoe County District Judge Carlos Samour Jr. wrote the reincarceration of Rene Lima-Marin was "utterly unjust".

"People have raped, molested kids, taken lives, and have 15, 20, 25 years".

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"Requiring Lima-Marin to serve the rest of his prison sentence all these years later would be draconian, would deprive him of substantive due process, and would perpetrate a manifest injustice, " the judge wrote in a court order obtained by the Denver Post. Instead, he called her to tell her he was being held by Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

The judge's decision was met with excitement by Lima-Marin's family. The detainer was later confirmed, according to a statement from the Colorado Department of Corrections obtained by the Denver Post.

"I just rolled up my windows in the vehicle and started screaming", she said. "My screaming turned into laughter and, 'Thank you, God!' The first person I called to tell was his mom, and we were both crying on the phone and pretty much screaming". Hickenlooper said Wednesday that the Department of Corrections was required by law to release Lima-Marin to Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials.

A spokesperson for the Colorado Attorney General's office said they are now reviewing the case.

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