IDAHO FALLS – Christopher Tapp is a free man. After serving 20 years in prison for the rape and murder of Angie Dodge in Idaho Falls in 1996, Tapp stood on the steps of the Bonneville County courthouse and spoke to reporters.
“For the last 20 years, I’ve been in a concrete …room and not be able to do what I want to do, say the things I want to say without some kind of recourse. Now I can look and see things differently,” Tapp said. “I want to enjoy life. I want to see what life has to offer and prove again that I was worth something. That’s the biggest thing.”
Tapp’s lawyers and the Idaho Innocence Project have argued that DNA samples found at the crime scene do not belong to him. A new sketch of a possible suspect has been developed using DNA found at the crime scene. That sketch has not yet been made public.
Public defender John Thomas told reporters the real killer would be brought to justice and said, despite this case, he still believes in the criminal justice system.
“This is the greatest system in the world and sometimes it gets it right and sometimes we get it wrong, Today we’re on our way to getting it right.”
Tapp’s release is based on an agreement with the state that his murder conviction would still stand but a rape conviction be dropped. He was resentenced for the murder to a 20-year term and then given credit for time served, thus ending his two-decade incarceration.
Judge Alan Stephen signed off on the agreement saying it “fulfills the need for justice and fairness.”
Bonneville County Prosecutor Danny Clark also called the agreement “appropriate, just and fair.”
Angie Dodge’s mother, Carol, sat next to Tapp’s mother, Vera, throughout the hearing and hugged him when it was over. Carol Dodge told the court that she felt Angie’s presence with her “every step of the way.”
“It has been one hell of a journey,” Dodge said, “and I’ve turned over every pebble there is.”
Dodge said police and prosecutors have promised they will continue to search for Angie’s killer.