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Tampa Paying $14 Million to Man Wrongfully Imprisoned

A man who spent 37 years in prison after being wrongfully convicted in the 1983 rape and murder of a woman in Tampa, Fla., will receive $14 million in a settlement with the city, Robert DuBoise, 59, was just 18 when he was arrested in connection with the killing of Barbara Grams, 19, who was beaten to death and whose body was discovered behind a dental office on Aug. 19, 1983, reports the New York Times. DuBoise was convicted of first-degree murder and attempted sexual battery in 1985 in a one-week trial in which a jailhouse informant claimed he was guilty, and prosecutors argued that DuBoise’s teeth matched what they described as a bite mark on the victim’s cheek. He was initially sentenced to death, but three years later, the Florida Supreme Court changed that sentence to life in prison. In August 2020, DuBoise was freed after new DNA evidence came to light that exonerated him and implicated two other men who were later charged in the killing. On Thursday, the Tampa City Council unanimously approved the settlement, which is to be paid in three installments over three years.

DuBoise said that he hoped his case could serve as an example for others who had been wrongfully convicted. According to the lawsuit, the odontologist, Dr. Richard Souviron, “knowingly fabricated,” the bite mark evidence in collaboration with the police officers, requesting that they make an impression of DuBoise’s teeth from beeswax, despite the fact that it is not used for making such molds, because beeswax is too soft to retain its shape. The officers, the suit claimed, made no effort to find the real perpetrator, and instead conspired to “conjure additional false evidence” against DuBoise, coercing informants to testify against him. According to settlement documents, the city denied allegations of “intentional wrongdoing” by the Tampa Police Department or its former officers, who, in depositions, claimed they had never coerced a jail informant to testify against. DuBoise. In his own deposition, the jail informant said DuBoise had never confessed to the rape or killing, and that he had been threatened by the officers to provide a false testimony. Luis Viera, a City Council member, said that through the settlement, the Council “did what it could do to make this disturbing wrong right.”


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