Florida Man Gets $14 Million Settlement for Wrong Conviction that Led to his 40 Years Imprisonment

Tampa, FL: Tampa City Council granted a $14 Million settlement for a wrongfully convicted man. DuBoise’s release in 2020 came after fresh DNA evidence pointed to two different individuals, unrelated to him, in the 1983 murder of Barbara Grams.

One year later, DuBoise filed a federal lawsuit against the city, retired police officers, and a forensic dentist who had connected him to the crime using bite mark analysis.

Following an extended period of legal proceedings, the involved parties agreed at a mediation session conducted in January.

The city’s resolution details the terms of the settlement, which will be paid in installments to DuBoise and his legal representatives over the next few years. The money will come from a city insurance fund, with $9 million allocated for this year, and $3 million and $2 million in the fiscal years 2025 and 2026, respectively.

DuBoise’s legal team stressed in a statement on Monday that no sum of money could make up for the years he spent in prison, describing his unjust conviction as a tragedy that could have been avoided. They see the settlement as a recognition of the harm DuBoise suffered and a chance for him to start moving on with his life.

Tampa Police Chief Lee Bercaw recognized the lasting significance of the case, especially on DuBoise, almost 40 years later, and emphasized the progress in investigative methods and technology in the department.

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Mayor Jane Castor agreed with Chief Bercaw’s comments, confirming the advancements achieved by the Tampa Police Department following DuBoise’s arrest. She stressed the significance of upholding the highest standards in criminal investigations to maintain the credibility of the criminal justice system.

When DuBoise was arrested, he was 18 years old. He is currently 59 years old. In August 1983, Grams, 19, was attacked while walking home from work at Tampa Bay Center. The next day, she was found behind a dental office, where she had been sexually assaulted and beaten. An arrest was made after a bite mark on her cheek was identified as evidence.

Afterward, DNA testing did not match DuBoise, resulting in his dismissal and the arrest of two other individuals connected to the crime.

The proposed resolution of the settlement also mentions key updates from pretrial testimony, such as the forensic dentist changing his opinion on bite mark analysis and the jailhouse informant retracting his testimony about DuBoise confessing to him.

The resolution highlights the city’s stance on the Tampa Police Department’s actions, stating there was no intentional wrongdoing by the department or any officer. Nevertheless, it recognizes that comparable cases of wrongful convictions have led to larger settlements.

In the previous year, the Florida Legislature and Governor Ron DeSantis passed a bill granting DuBoise $1.85 million, equivalent to $50,000 for each year of wrongful incarceration, with conditions for repayment to the state in case of legal settlements.