Two men wrongfully convicted of crimes in Idaho each will receive payments of more than $1 million from the state. The men spent decades in prison for rape and murder crimes they did not commit. In each of their cases, new DNA evidence proved they did not commit the crimes, while leading to the arrests of other men in the respective cases.
And, in each of the cases, the Idaho Innocence Project advocated for years to secure their respective releases from prison. On June 15, Idaho government officials approved total payments of $2.6 million to the men who are among the first to benefit from the state’s recently passed Wrongful Conviction Act.
Wrongful Conviction Act comes into play
Payments of $1.4 million and $1.2 million were issued respectively to Charles Fain and Christopher Tapp.
In March, Idaho lawmakers passed the Wrongful Conviction Act. The new law declares that people exonerated of crimes must receive monetary reimbursement. As a result of the law, a person will receive $62,000 for every year of wrongful imprisonment or $75,000 for every year on death row.
Fain, 72, spent more than 18 years in prison after his conviction of in the 1982 rape, murder and kidnapping of a 9-year-old neighbor girl who vanished while walking to school. Days later, fishermen found her body in the Snake River. A jury convicted Fain in 1983, and, a year later, Fain was sentenced to death.
In 2001, Fain was freed after new DNA evidence cleared him of any connection to the crime. And just last year, authorities charged another man, David Dalrymple, with rape and murder of the girl. A convicted sex offender, Dalrymple is currently serving a life sentence for the sexual assault and kidnapping of a minor in a separate case.
The now 43-year-old Tapp was convicted of murder and rape in the 1996 death of an 18-year-old woman. He spent more than 20 years in prison before his release in 2017. New DNA evidence cleared Tapp of the crime. Earlier in June, another man pleaded guilty to first-degree murder and rape in the case. The judge sentenced that man to 20 years to life in prison.
Cases of wrongful convictions are more common than one may think. Overly aggressive investigators, evidence that has been tampered with, erroneous testimony and forced confessions all may play a role in these cases. The result is innocent people are convicted of crimes they did not commit.