DNA frees convicted murderer


Timothy Masters
Timothy Masters

Arriving from Buena Vista, Colo., Timothy Masters is escorted by sheriff's Deputy Mark Walker, right, and Detective Richard Spear at the Larimer County Detention Center in Fort Collins, Colo., Monday, Jan. 21, 2008. Masters, convicted of murder in the death of Peggy Hettrick despite a lack of physical evidence tying him to the crime scene, said Saturday, Jan. 19, he feels like he's in the twilight zone, now that a special prosecutor has said he should be released.

Linda McConnell/The Associated Press
Published: Tuesday, January 22, 2008 at 2:17 p.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, January 22, 2008 at 2:17 p.m.

FORT COLLINS, Colo. - A judge on Tuesday ordered the release of a man convicted of murder after DNA evidence pointed to another suspect.

Timothy Masters, 35, who was sentenced to life in prison in 1999, was ordered freed on a personal recognizance bond. Prosecutors promised to decide quickly whether to try him again.

New tests announced last week showed DNA found on the victim's clothing was not from Masters but from someone else.

Applause broke out in the courtroom as the hearing ended, but Masters showed little emotion as he hugged members of his defense team.

In 1987, the manager at a woman's clothing store was found stabbed and sexually mutilated in a field south of Fort Collins, but police investigated for more than a decade before arresting Masters. He was 15 at the time the woman died and lived near the field where her body was found.

Masters' new attorneys have said detectives wrongly focused on Masters instead of other suspects.

During recent appeals, both the defense and special prosecutors assigned to the case said crucial information was withheld from Masters' trial lawyers.

About 50 people packed the small courtroom Tuesday morning.

"It's (like) saying there was a death, and all of a sudden, it turns out he is alive again," said Master's uncle, John Masters.

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