BURLINGTON, CO (KDVR/CNN) – A man broke his silence from behind bars, speaking out about spending the rest of his life in prison.
Rene Lima-Marin was 19 years old when he robbed two video stores armed with a gun.
He served 10 years and was released, but that turned out to be a mistake.
He says the rifle he used in the robberies wasn’t loaded, and no one was hurt. But his case was aggressively prosecuted under a program called “Cop,” a program which is no longer in use.
Eight convictions led to a 98-year sentence, one he says is excessively harsh for a crime normally carrying four to 16 years.
Lima-Marin had it all: a wife, kids, a home. “It’s that every day, happy, white-picket-fence type of life,” he said.
It’s a life he never imagined could be his as a convicted felon.
“What makes this that much harder, is the fact I constantly have them right here,” Lima-Marin said.
It’s a life that vanished overnight Jan. 7, when a judge sent him back to prison to finish a 98-year sentence.
“98 years for what? You know, for what?” Lima-Marin said
It’s a sentence his appeals lawyer told him was just 16 years.
“She came to visit me, said you no longer have 98 years, you basically are given 16 years, which is what we were fighting for anyway,” Lima-Marin said
But her information was wrong, as was the court file sent to the Department of Corrections stating his sentences should run all at once, instead of back-to-back.
“I would have never had a wife. I would have never had children. I would have never bought a house. I would have never done any of those things,” Lima-Marin said. “But I did those because you let me out. And now they are being punished for something they had absolutely nothing to do with.”
It’s a punishment he says is excessive, wrong and breaks up his family
“People have raped, molested kids, taken lives and had 15, 20, 25 years,” Lima-Marin said. “And I made a mistake and tried to steal some money, and I am given my entire life in prison?”
He added: “I acknowledge the fact that I did something wrong. I take responsibility for the fact that I did something wrong. But I also believe I completed the punishment.”
Lima-Marin served 10 years with exemplary behavior – not written up even once. And when he got out, he pledged he’d never do anything to go back.
“That’s all I want people to see, is that I’m not that guy,” he said. “I don’t deserve 98 years. I deserve the time that I did.”
Lima-Marin won’t even be eligible for parole until the year 2054 – 40 years from now – when he’s 75.
His family has set up an online petition to help generate support for his immediate release.
They’re also accepting any donations to help pay for a lawyer that has accepted the case.