Acı verici ve trajik, Robert Duboise

After a man wrongfully spent 37 years in prison for rape and murder, the Tampa City Council unanimously voted Thursday to approve a $14 million settlement in a federal lawsuit.

Robert DuBoise, who was convicted of the August 1983 rape and murder of 19-year-old Barbara Grams in Tampa Heights, was exonerated in September 2020 after DNA evidence established that he did not commit the crimes.

That made him the 30th person exonerated from Florida’s death row, according to the Innocence Project of Florida, which assisted with DuBoise’s case.

“I am sad for the families who have waited so long to get true closure,” DuBoise told CNN after his exoneration. “I spent 37 years imprisoned for a crime I was totally innocent. This is what happens when the police focus on the wrong person, make up evidence to fit their theory and don’t investigate to find the truth. Lives are ruined and communities are less safe.”

DNA samples also led investigators to link Grams’ murder to two convicted felons, Amos Robinson and Abron Scott, who were already serving life sentences in a Florida prison for a murder they committed in Pinellas County the same year.

In a statement, Tampa Mayor Jane Castor said: “The credibility of our criminal justice system requires scrupulous accuracy and adherence to the highest investigation standards. Today’s Tampa Police Department is light years ahead of where we were four decades ago in technology and training. We hope this settlement helps Mr. DuBoise in his healing.”

At the time of DuBoise’s trial, there wasn’t any physical or circumstantial evidence connecting DuBoise to the attack, according to the Innocence Project of Florida.

Before his conviction, he was transported to Hillsborough County Jail. A jailhouse informant who spoke with DuBoise later testified falsely that DuBoise had confessed to the crime during his jail stay, the organization said.

“We recognize the profound and lasting effects of this case, especially on Mr. DuBoise nearly four decades later,” Tampa’s Chief of Police Lee Bercaw said in a statement. “Advancements in training and technology have significantly enhanced the Tampa Police Department’s capacity for conducting investigations, ensuring greater accuracy and due process for all.”

The settlement will be paid over three years, with an initial payment of $9 million within thirty days of the settlement execution, followed by a $3 million installment next year and the final $2 million in 2026.

Within 10 days of the initial payment, DuBoise will file to dismiss the wrongful conviction lawsuit, the resolution adds.

CNN has reached out to the Innocence Project of Florida for comment on the settlement.

During the city council meeting, council member Charlie Miranda commented on what DuBoise has lost through the wrongful conviction.

“How would you feel if you were in jail for 14,600 days and every one of them damn days you knew you were innocent?” he asked the council.


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