IDAHO FALLS, Idaho (AP) — A man has sued Idaho Falls and former members of the police department after he was wrongfully convicted for the 1996 rape and murder of Angie Dodge, authorities said.
Dodge was killed on June 13, 1996. Prosecutors have said she was found in her apartment with her throat cut, with evidence indicating she was raped before her death, the Post Register reported.
Christopher Tapp filed a lawsuit Thursday in U.S. District Court for the District of Idaho after he spent 20 years in prison for the crime despite the fact his DNA didn’t match hair or semen samples collected at the crime scene.
“I’m hoping that this nightmare will come to an end,” Tapp told the newspaper. “I’ve been living it for the last 23 years of my life.”
The lawsuit claims Idaho Falls Police officers and detectives gave him details about the crime scene that were not released to the public to use in multiple false confessions that were later used against him in trial.
While serving a 20-year sentence, Tapp received support for Angie's mother Carol Dodge, who conducted her own investigation into her daughter's murder and spoke in defense of Tapp after reviewing recordings of his interrogation.
“Chris was not the only one affected by this,” Carol Dodge said, adding that the case consumed her family's life.
Tapp was eventually released from prison in 2017, but prosecutors refused to drop the murder charge until last year when investigators arrested Brian Leigh Dripps of Caldwell based on new DNA evidence.
Dripps confessed to raping and murdering Dodge, and said he did so alone, authorities said. Dripps is now facing charges of rape and first-degree murder. His confession is the subject of a motion by his attorneys, who say it should be suppressed after they accused police detectives of not informing him of his rights.
No dollar amount has been attached to the lawsuit. Tapp and his attorneys have filed 16 claims against the city of Idaho Falls and the officers involved in his case.
The city of Idaho Falls released a statement Thursday in response to the lawsuit, saying it has an obligation to the public to exercise great care in all legal matters.
“In any pending litigation, public statements always carry the possibility of being used by the various parties involved to the benefit or detriment of the others, which is why we generally do not provide comment on legal matters," Public Information Officer Bud Cranor said in a statement.