Dewey Inspires Colorado Lawmakers to Make Change
KREX News Room
DENVER, Colo. On April 30, 2012, Robert Dewey was given back his life.
"There's a lot of mental anguish, stress, built-up hostility, you know what I mean. But I just try to stay positive," Dewey said.
Mesa County District Attorney Pete Hautzinger, said, "Once we were convinced he was innocent we filed the motion with the court saying exonerate him, vacate the conviction, let him out, because it was the right thing to do."
Dewey was wrongly convicted of the rape and murder of a Palisade woman in 1996. After being exonerated, he came out to a world completely unknown to him in 2012.
“The technology itself, it’s just. I still don’t understand how they can take a little itty chip that goes in your phone and it holds all that information," said Dewey.
Attorney Danyel Joffe, who fought for Dewey’s freedom, feared the worst. “That he would be homeless, and that he would be starving, and that he would never get his back surgery that he desperately needs," she said.
“In terms of financial compensation there’s really nothing on the books in Colorado,” Hautzinger said.
Thanks to Dewey, a Colorado lawmaker was inspired to propose such legislation. Twenty-seven other states have laws on the books to compensate people like him. Because of his story, Colorado may be the 28th.
“It would enable Mr. Dewey to have some sort of life, because right now he is broke. He has nothing,” Joffe said.
The proposed bill would help exonerated persons in several ways, receiving monetary compensation, tuition waivers at state institutions of higher education, reasonable attorney fees and other stipulations.
“I’m still in jail in a sense because unless that compensation bill comes through, I’m dead in the water man, I really am,” said Dewey.
If all goes as planned, Dewey will have his moment at the state capital, speaking on behalf of the legislation.
Hautzinger says the bill is a step in the right direction, however, he also believes it has some problems, “I can’t support it as it’s currently drafted largely because it's not limited to people like Dewey who have been proven innocent. ”
He wants it modified so he can fully support it.
"Our obligation, what we're supposed to do, is try and seek justice," Hautzinger said.
"Being labeled as a "rappo" and a murder after all those years in prison is a pretty hard pill to swallow," Dewey said.
However, Dewey still feels blessed and grateful, “It’s nice to know that people took the time out to even read my story, let alone help out with any kind of funds, or gas card, or clothing card, or a voucher to go get a hamburger, ya know? I'm happy with just a letter saying 'hey man, I hope the best for you,' and I've gotten a lot of those."
While no piece of legislation can replace almost two decades of time spent behind bars, it will give Dewey a fighting chance to start over once again and finally heal.
Donations for Dewey can be sent to The Joffe Law Firm:
Denver, CO. 80203