Deal could release Idaho man from prison in 1996 rape/murder

Posted at 12:51 PM, Mar 21, 2017
and last updated 2017-03-21 14:51:11-04

An eastern Idaho man is expected to be released from prison, after spending nearly half his life incarcerated.

The Post Register reports attorneys for both the defense and the prosecution confirmed Monday that they have reached a deal that would release Chris Tapp from prison on Wednesday.

Judge Alan Stephens must approve the deal.

Tapp is currently in prison for the June 13, 1996 rape and murder of 18-year-old Angie Dodge. He was convicted after he confessed to the crime. Now, new DNA testing shows that none of Tapp's DNA matches the genetic samples taken from Dodge's body.

Judges for Justice, the Center for Wrongful Convictions, the Idaho Innocence Project and the New York Innocence Project all worked to overturn Tapp's conviction.

In a telephone interview with Idaho On Your Side, Idaho Innocence Project Director Greg Hampikian said, “To me, it’s just a horrible, horrible case of tunnel vision, a fake confession, and DNA evidence that was not paid attention to. And it’s not just one piece of DNA evidence. Not just some spurious little semen. It’s a pubic hair. It’s her hand. It’s her bedclothes. It’s her teddy bear in her room. It’s all one guy –- not Chris Tapp.”

During his confession, Tapp told investigators a man named Ben Hobbs was involved in the crime. Prosecutors, however, felt there was no evidence to substantiate Tapp’s claim –- nor any evidence to support Tapp’s statements that other people were also involved.

Experts say DNA evidence at the scene points to someone other than Tapp, a man some refer to as “the mystery man.”

“That ‘mystery man’ left semen on a dead girl’s body. That ‘mystery man’ left a public hair on her face. That ‘mystery man’ is the only one besides her consensual partner who is on her bedclothes -– both her sweatpants and a shirt. The ‘mystery man’ is on her hand. The ‘mystery man’ is found everywhere in that crime scene that we’ve asked to have tested for the last ten years. And it’s time for the State to admit they were wrong from the beginning –- this man is innocent -- and to do the right thing. I hope they will,” Hampikian said.

Wednesday’s hearing is scheduled for 11 a.m.

(Associated Press contributed to this report)