Florida Man Wrongfully Imprisoned for 37 Years to Receive $14M Settlement from Tampa

Robert DuBoise’s harrowing tale of wrongful imprisonment for a crime he did not commit has culminated in a $14 million settlement from the city of Tampa, Florida. DuBoise spent an agonizing 37 years behind bars after being wrongly convicted of the 1983 rape and murder of 19-year-old Barbara Grams. At just 18 years old at the time of the crime, DuBoise faced a death sentence, which was later commuted to life imprisonment.

It wasn’t until 2018, with assistance from the Innocence Project, that DuBoise’s case garnered renewed attention. DNA evidence, unavailable at the time of his trial, implicated two other individuals in Grams’ slaying, leading to DuBoise’s exoneration and subsequent release from prison in 2020.

Following his release, DuBoise pursued legal action against the city of Tampa, the police officers involved in the investigation, and a forensic dentist whose testimony played a pivotal role in his wrongful conviction. The lawsuit, settled on January 11, was approved by the Tampa City Council on Thursday, with all members voting unanimously to award DuBoise the $14 million compensation.

Council members acknowledged the grave injustice inflicted upon DuBoise and emphasized the settlement as a small measure of reparation for the years of suffering he endured. Luis Viera, a council member, characterized the wrongful conviction as a “big wrong” and expressed hope that the settlement would provide DuBoise with some semblance of comfort.

DuBoise, now 59 years old, expressed gratitude for the resolution, affirming his intent to move forward with his life. Despite the monumental settlement, he emphasized that no amount of money could ever fully restore what he lost during his wrongful imprisonment. DuBoise currently works as a maintenance director at a Tampa-area country club and plans to purchase a house with the settlement funds.

Tampa Police Chief Lee Bercaw acknowledged the profound impact of DuBoise’s case and noted advancements in investigative techniques and technology since the 1980s. While DuBoise’s case serves as a somber reminder of past failings in the justice system, Bercaw assured that steps have been taken to prevent similar injustices in the future.

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The resolution of DuBoise’s lawsuit marks the end of a long and arduous journey for him, highlighting the importance of continued efforts to rectify miscarriages of justice. As DuBoise seeks closure and moves forward with his life, his story serves as a poignant reminder of the resilience of the human spirit in the face of adversity.

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