Tim Masters, who served nine years of a life sentence after his 1998 arrest in Peggy Hettrick’s murder, said he hopes Fort Collins, Colorado, and Larimer County will finally acknowledge he was railroaded. The city and county have paid Masters a combined $10 million to settle a civil rights lawsuit related to the conviction, but they painted the payouts as business decisions rather than reparations.
“I am anxious to see if the leadership in Fort Collins will finally publicly admit my incarceration was a mistake or if they will continue this charade that their people did nothing wrong,” Masters said in a statement provided by his attorneys.
Masters was 15 when Fort Collins police began investigating him in the 1987 murder of Hettrick, whose mutilated body was found in a field near the home Masters shared with his father.
Twelve years later, he was convicted, largely on circumstantial evidence and the testimony of an expert witness who said he fit the profile of a sexual predator. Masters was cleared by DNA evidence and released from prison in 2008. The crime remains unsolved.
It’s been almost two years since the Colorado Supreme Court censured Judges Jolene Blair and Terry Gilmore, then-prosecutors in Masters’ 1999 trial, for their handling of the case. No Fort Collins police officers have been disciplined, and a 2008 inquiry into the actions of Lt. Jim Broderick, one of the lead investigators, found no criminal wrongdoing.