Tampa, FL: Man Imprisoned for 37 Years for Murder He Didn’t Commit Set to Receive $14 Million

Emma Grant
Robert Duboise after his release from prison in 2020

A Florida man who spent more than three decades in prison for rape and murder is now set to receive a $14 million settlement from Tampa.

Sentenced to death for the murder of Barbara Grams in 1983, when Robert DuBois was only 18 years old. Although his sentence was later reduced to life, prosecutors did not agree to re-examine the decades-old case with the help of the Innocence Project until 2018.

Dubois, 59, was released in 2020 after new DNA evidence pointed to two other men. He later sued the city of Tampa, investigators, and the forensic dentist who misdiagnosed the bite marks. The matter was resolved on 11 January.

City Council Approves $14 Million Wrongful Conviction Settlement

On Thursday, Tampa’s City Council approved a $14 million proposal as the board dealt a major blow to Dubois.

“It was a big mistake,” said Councilman Luis Vieira. I hope and pray that this measure will provide them some relief.

Dubois and his legal team get the lion’s share this year, $9 million. That will be followed by $3 million in 2025 and the final $2 million in 2026.

“This settlement is a loss for Mr. DuBois, but it is also an opportunity for him to move forward,” said Chicago civil rights firm Lowery & Lowery.

A Botched Investigation Derailed an Innocent Man’s Life

The case dates back to August 1983, when 19-year-old Grams was raped and murdered while walking home from work. Based on the wound on her cheek, investigators concluded that it was a bite mark.

Many of the men, including Dubois, showed bite marks. Dubois’ wounds were matched by a forensic dentist, even though he did not know Grams, leading to his wrongful conviction.

Decades later, DNA testing led to two other suspects being sentenced to life in prison for another murder. The dentist admitted that bite marks could not reliably identify the person.

Ultimately, DuBois spent nearly forty years in prison before his innocence was proven.

“For me, this means it’s finally over,” he told reporters after voting closed. “Money, house, car… none of these can bring back what I have lost. I will spend my time in bitterness.” I don’t want to waste.

Reforms Underway but Damage Done

Tampa Police Chief Lee Berkow acknowledged the “deep and lasting impact” on DuBois and said that training and technology have improved significantly since the 1980s investigation.

However, Dubois has already lost most of his life behind bars, because the stupidity of the police got him killed. No amount of money can compensate for this hurt.

The city says its officers were not intentionally negligent. But such a large settlement reflects DuBois’s deep culpability in failing as well as the Grams family, allowing the real killers to go free.

Dubois’ accident is far from rare. More than 200 wrongful convictions have been overturned thanks to DNA evidence, including 20 death row inmates.

People like DuBois are troubled by the unjust compounding system. But hopefully his case will spur reform.

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Emma Grant is a highly regarded legal news expert with a deep understanding of constitutional law and its implications in contemporary society. With her extensive background in legal journalism and analysis, Emma Grant has established herself as a trusted authority on the intersection of law, policy, and society.