AURORA, Colo. — An Aurora man who turned his life around after he was mistakenly released from prison must serve 90 more years unless the governor steps in.
In January, the Arapahoe County Court realized its mistake and picked up the 35-year-old husband and father.
Rene Lima-Marin was ordered to serve back-to-back sentences of 98 years for armed robberies at two video stores more than 15 years ago.
A court clerk made an error telling the Department of Corrections his eight sentences were all supposed to run at the same time for 16 years.
The court corrected its mistake. But it has torn a family apart.
“By far, the worst day of my life and it hasn’t gotten any better since then,” says Rene’s wife, Jasmine.
She will never forget January 7, when her husband learned he was immediately going back to prison to complete a 98-year sentence.
“For sure there had to be some kind of mistake,” reasoned Jasmine.
After all, Rene had just served half of a 16-year sentence and completed five years parole.
“He looked out the window and he said, ‘Oh my God. I can’t believe it,” recalls Jasmine of that fateful night.
The police had come to get him. The officer told Rene he was so sorry he had to do this.
“He told my husband to go ahead and give your wife a hug and your boys a hug. We woke up the boys and he gave them a hug and a kiss goodbye. That was it,” she says.
The officer took him from a reformed life he had built over nearly six years of freedom—a marriage, two children and a promising future
“It’s wrong because he’s changed. He changed his life for the better, when he got out. His number one goal was never to go back there,” says Jasmine.
Besides, she says a 98-year sentence was overly harsh for crimes in which no one was even hurt.
“Murderers don’t even get 98 years. I think it’s ridiculous,” she says.
But Senior Deputy District Attorney Rick Orman says Rene had a chance to ask for a reduced sentence but didn’t because, he says, Rene knew the clerical mistake might be uncovered.
“He decided to start a family. He decided to get married with this hanging over his head. And that’s what happened. It finally crashed down on his head,” says Orman.
Jasmine says she doesn’t believe her husband knew about the mistake because she says he would have told her.
Now, those five years, eight months and 15 days of freedom are what Jasmine holds onto.
“All the memories I have of us here are in pictures or in my head,” she says.
Because she knows she may never create new memories with a man she’s loved since she was 16.
“We know there’s a chance we may not have any more time together with him being a free man ever again.”
Orman says he doesn’t see how the courts can help Rene.
He says it may be up to a commutation from the governor.