IDAHO FALLS, Idaho (AP) — A man who spent two decades behind bars for the killing of an eastern Idaho woman after making a false confession has been exonerated.
Bonneville County Judge Alan Stephens on Wednesday vacated Christopher Tapp's murder conviction.
"I'm thankful that I've been given this second chance of life," Tapp said. "I wasted 20 years of my life for something I never did, but again, I also grew up those 20 years."
Tapp was arrested in the killing of Angie Dodge in 1997 after he confessed with a group of other men.
Several experts found that Tapp falsely confessed under police coercion. Another man was arrested earlier this year after new tests showed his DNA matched evidence found at the scene.
Tapp signed a deal with the Bonneville County prosecutor's office in 2017 that allowed him to be released from prison, but the conviction remained until Wednesday.
"As far as the court is concerned, you are cleared of the charges you have been living under for the past 20-plus years," Stephens said in his decision.
Police in May arrested Brian Leigh Dripps Sr., 53, based on DNA evidence and the use of a family tree. Dripps is charged with first-degree murder and rape.
Police said Dripps lived across the street from Dodge at the time of her death and knew her as an acquaintance. Police say she was raped and stabbed to death in her apartment.
Dripps is being held without bond. He's scheduled to appear in court for a preliminary hearing on Aug. 2. His attorney, James Archibald, said Thursday he was reviewing the case and couldn't comment.
In the 2017 deal Tapp made with prosecutors to be released from prison, he agreed to give up on challenging his conviction and, as a result, a potential lawsuit for the time he spent behind bars.
Some two years later, prosecutor Danny Clark filed the motion agreeing that Tapp should be exonerated.