After 'Big Wrong' Cleared by DNA, a Big Settlement

Robert DuBoise, freed in 2020 after 37 years behind bars, to be paid $14M by city of Tampa
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Aug 27, 2020 7:50 PM CDT
Updated Feb 16, 2024 8:47 AM CST
New Evidence Clears Inmate After 37 Years
Robert DuBoise speaks with the media after being released from prison in Bowling Green, Florida.   (Martha Asencio-Rhine/Tampa Bay Times via AP)
UPDATE Feb 16, 2024 8:47 AM CST

A Florida man freed in 2020 from nearly four decades behind bars after DNA evidence cleared him of rape and murder will now receive monetary compensation for that time lost. The New York Times reports that on Thursday, the Tampa City Council unanimously OKed a $14 million settlement for Robert DuBoise, to be doled out in three installments over the next three years. "This was a big wrong," said council member Luis Viera, per the AP. "I hope and pray this settlement will give him some measure of comfort." In settlement documents, the city denied "intentional wrongdoing" by the Tampa PD and four officers accused of coercing a jail informant to testify against DuBoise, per the Times. As for DuBoise's reaction to the payout: "I'm just grateful," he said Thursday. Two other men serving life sentences for another killing have since been charged for the murder of 19-year-old Barbara Grams.

Aug 27, 2020 7:50 PM CDT

A Florida man who spent the last 37 years in prison on a rape and murder charge was released Thursday, hours after officials revealed dramatic new evidence that proved his innocence. Robert DuBoise walked out of the Hardee Correctional Institution in Bowling Green shortly after 2pm. With him were his mother and sister. "It's an overwhelming sense of relief," Robert DuBoise told reporters outside the prison. "I prayed to God every day and hoped for it." The 56-year-old was serving a life sentence, having been convicted in 1983 in the murder of 19-year-old Barbara Grams. She had been raped and beaten while walking home from her job at a Tampa mall. DuBoise's conviction centered on one piece of evidence: an alleged bite mark on the victim's face, the AP reports. A jailhouse informant's testimony also helped convict him.

On Thursday, a lawyer from the Innocence Project and a lawyer from the Hillsborough County Conviction Review Unit addressed the false evidence in an online court hearing. Experts proved that the mark wasn't from a bite, and the jailhouse informant was deemed not credible. Rape kit evidence was located and tested and that evidence excluded DuBoise. Judge Christopher Nash ruled that DuBoise should be released immediately. DuBoise said he'll have to learn many modern things, such as how to use a computer. But he added he bears no ill will toward those involved in his long incarceration. "If you keep hatred and bitterness in your heart, you don't have room for anything else," he said. The case has since been reopened, and authorities have a suspect in Grams' rape and murder. Hall said the person "does not pose a threat to public safety at this time."

(More false imprisonment stories.)

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