Colorado inmate who turned life around after mistaken release freed again

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A Colorado inmate who was once prematurely released is being freed again after using his freedom to build a life. (Brennan Linsley/AP Photo)

Update: Lima-Marin was transferred on Wednesday from prison to the custody of immigration officials, who indicated he could be deported to his native Cuba. Colorado lawmakers who supported Lima-Marin's release are petitioning the governor to grant him a pardon.

A Colorado inmate once released due to a mistake is getting freed again, and this time he's going back to a life he built the first time he was freed.

Rene Lima-Marin was first sentenced in 2000 for video store robberies he committed in 1998 as a teen, according to the Denver Post. He and a friend were both given 98 years when their actions during the two robberies were dissected in discrete actions (among them kidnapping, for moving employees between rooms).

In prison, Lima-Marin said, he experienced a spiritual rebirth, cleaning up his act and working to cut out negative things from his life.

Then, after a clerical error shortened his sentence, he got out on parole in 2008. He got a new lease on life.

He progressed through a series of jobs from sales to a union job as a glazier installing windows. He reconnected with Jasmine Chambers, whom he had been in a relationship with before he was arrested. They went to church together. He bonded with Jasmine's son. Lima-Marin and Jasmine had a kid, bought a house and got married.

All of this happened in five years and eight months. In 2014, his prosecutor checked on his whereabouts and found out about the error and Lima-Marin's release. He was sent back to prison.

His family began a long legal battle arguing for his release, and on Tuesday, a judge ruled in his favor. In a 165-page opinion obtained by the Denver Post, Chief Arapahoe County District Judge Carlos Samour Jr. ordered his release. Samour said that Lima-Marin had not known about the clerical error when he was released and asked, "Without the ability to turn back the clock, how does the court dispense justice under such circumstances?"

"Requiring Lima-Marin to serve the rest of his prison sentence all these years later would be draconian, would deprive him of substantive due process, and would perpetrate a manifest injustice," he wrote.

Lima-Marin's attorney said he should be released Wednesday or Thursday. His wife told the Denver Post she couldn't wait to pick him up.

"I'm still a bit in shock," she said. "I can't believe it's over."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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