GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. - Douglas Thames has been found guilty of the rape and murder of a Palisade woman in 1994.
The victim was 19 year-old Jacie Taylor. She was pronounced dead at the scene. The coroner reported Taylor had been sexually assaulted, and ruled Taylor's death a homicide by strangulation.
"Closure. It's been a hard last three years, and to go through it twice. I don't think any mother or anybody should have to go through it once, but to have to go through it twice is just like ripping your heart out," said Jacie Taylor's mother, Jackie Kuntz.
Following the investigation Colorado Courts convicted Robert Dewey for the murder of Jacie Taylor based on circumstantial evidence. Throughout his case Dewey maintained his innocence, yet a jury found him guilty and sentenced him to life in prison without parole.
In 2012, the Innocence Project, which helps prisoners prove their innocence through DNA testing confirmed that none of the DNA found belonged to Dewey, specifically semen found on a blanket. This discovery eventually led to Dewey’s exoneration for Taylor’s death.
However, the new DNA research did find a match to a man who was already serving a life sentence for a murder and rape in Fort Collins that occurred in 1989. His name was Douglas Thames.
"He never paid for murdering my child, plus he left an innocent man in prison," said Kuntz.
During the trial prosecutors were able to piece together a case that put Thames at the scene of the crime using DNA evidence and witness testimony.
"A lot of the witnesses are not the same as they were in the 1990's. They have moved on with their lives, and yet we had to bring this all up for them, and talk to them about times when they were serious, hardcore, meth addicts. Things they weren't very proud of," said Assistant District Attorney, Richard Tuttle.
Thames' family still believes their son is innocent, and feel his trial was unfair, saying in a written statement,"The prosecution are supposed to be officers of the court and sworn to uphold the law, yet their entire case was build on lies....Out attorneys proved all the witnesses contradicted themselves. As far as we're concerned, the judge and prosecution should be prosecuted because they are criminals."