Rene Lima-Marin, whose bizarre odyssey through the legal system had been hung up in immigration court since last fall, walked free Monday afternoon from an Aurora detention facility after winning his case before the board of immigration appeals. The decision gave Lima-Marin his first moments of freedom since he was returned to prison nearly four years ago, when his earlier mistaken release from a robbery sentence launched him on an opportunity for a new life.
Although the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement could have appealed in federal court, an ICE spokesman said Monday that while the agency is disappointed by the decision, it plans no further action against Lima-Marin “unless other future criminal convictions render him removable.”
The decision came down Friday, but Lima-Marin’s attorney, Aaron Elinoff, didn’t receive notice until Monday, by regular mail. The ICE decision appears to put an end to a long, strange story intertwining the criminal justice and immigration systems.
Heading home with his wife, Jasmine, Lima-Marin, 39, said her strength helped pull him through as well as his faith, which he rediscovered while serving his original prison sentence. But he never doubted that he would be released.
“I knew it was going to happen, I just didn’t know when,” he said. “It’s rough when you have to deal with a lot of things in that environment, but you have to keep faith and keep pushing, stay patient and wait for when God says it’s the time.”
Lima-Marin’s improbable saga began with his conviction in 2000 for two video store robberies in Aurora when he was 20. Prosecutors filed a litany of charges, including kidnapping because video store employees were moved from room to room during the crime.
At sentencing, Judge John Leopold indicated he was not comfortable with the way the case was charged. Lima-Marin’s multiple sentences added up to 98 years, to be served consecutively. But in 2008, he was mistakenly released due to a clerical error that listed his sentences as running concurrently.
By Kevin Simpson for THE DENVER POST
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