IDAHO FALLS — A man convicted in the 1996 rape and murder of an 18-year-old woman will be released from prison this week, according to the Idaho Innocence Project.
The expected release of Chris Tapp will be on Wednesday, March 22 after more than 20 years in prison. He maintains he did not commit the crime.
Bonneville County Prosecutor Danny Clark declined to comment on the case but confirmed a hearing for Tapp is scheduled for Wednesday at 11 a.m.
The Post Register reports Tapp will admit no guilt in the murder or rape.
Judge Alan Stephens will ultimately determine whether any potential agreements between Tapp and Bonneville County move forward.
The Idaho Innocence Project posted the following message on Facebook:
Idaho Innocence Project Client Chris Tapp will be freed on Wednesday, March 22, 2017 after more than 20 years in prison. Tapp was convicted in the rape and murder of 18 year-old Angie Dodge on June 13, 1996.
The Idaho Innocence Project has worked on Tapp’s case for more than 10 years, and over those years secured DNA testing of evidence in the crime, including a pubic hair recovered from the victim’s body, stains on her clothing, and foreign DNA from her fingers. All of it pointed to only one person–the mysterious man who left semen on her body. New DNA results performed this month affirmed that Tapp is excluded from ALL the DNA evidence.
The Idaho Innocence Project and Judges for Justice also gathered evidence that shows Tapp falsely confessed after more than 40 hours of questioning and polygraphs–in exchange for an immunity deal. He was told that by admitting a small part in the crime and identifying the police’s major suspect, he would serve no prison time. However, when DNA from the semen that was recovered from the victim’s body did not match either the police suspect or Tapp, the police then accused Tapp of both rape and murder. He recanted his confession, but was tried anyway and convicted.
The Idaho Innocence Project stands behind Chris Tapp’s innocence, and hopes to help police find the man whose DNA matches the evidence. While we celebrate Chris’s freedom, we know that a true killer and rapist is still on the loose. Our hearts go out to all those who have been hurt in this tragedy, to the victim’s family, especially Carol Dodge who has worked with us to free Chris, and to Chris’s family — especially his mom, Vera, who has stood by her son through years of anguish.
Bonneville County Public defender, John Thomas — Chris’ main lawyer through this latest phase of his struggle–has done a heroic job. Over the last decade several Idaho Innocence Project (IIP) lawyers have also worked hard to free Chris, including Richard Visser, Jared Hoskins, Greg Silvey, and currently Jennifer Cummins. IIP volunteer detective Mike Stilton also put in countless hours, along with volunteer legal assistant Priscilla “Polly” Glynn and Boise State University student intern Lauren Radding. We also wish to thank the Innocence Project for some of the DNA testing and consulting on the case (Peter Neufeld, Vanessa Potkin). Charles Honts reviewed the polygraphs (calling them a virtual rubber hose), and Steve Drizin, legal director of the Center on Wrongful Convictions, analyzed the confession tapes, saying it was the “most contaminated and least corroborated” confession he had ever seen.
Nate Sunderland, EastIdahoNews.com
Debbie Bryce, EastIdahoNews.com
Natalia Hepworth, EastIdahoNews.com