Battling lawmakers unite to seek clemency for inmate

Believe it or not, there is one issue upon which battling lawmakers Joe Salazar and Dave Williams agree.

The Democrat from Thornton and Republican from Colorado Springs have spent the session on the opposite side of all kinds of issues this session, most notably on legislation around undocumented immigrants and sanctuary cities.

But today, the two lawmakers collaborated on an unprecedented resolution that asks Gov. John Hickenlooper to grant clemency to a Colorado man who may spend the rest of his life in prison. Salazar said today the governor is willing to consider the request. The governor’s spokeswoman was not immediately available for comment. 

Rene Lima-Marin of Aurora and an accomplice were convicted in 2000 of burglary, aggravated robbery and kidnapping and sentenced to 98 years in prison. Lima-Marin was 19 back then. He was supposed to serve his sentences consecutively, but due to a clerical error was mistakenly released on parole in 2008 after serving the sentences concurrently. The mistake was discovered by his former prosecutor. Lima-Marin turned himself in and has been incarcerated ever since.

Lima-Marin was a model prisoner and parolee, according to the resolution. During his five years of freedom, he married, had a family, a good job and his own home. 

Williams described Lima-Marin’s recent life as heartbreaking. “Yes, he committed the crimes he was accused of and rightfully convicted,” Williams told the House. But Lima-Marin turned his life around in prison, found salvation, and became a model inmate. While on parole, he fulfilled the terms of that parole “with flying colors…His second chance was snatched away.”

“Lima-Marin is the man who found triumph after experiencing defeat,” added Salazar. To Lima-Marin’s wife and two sons, who were present for the resolution, Salazar said “your father is an amazing man. He is good and strong. He has done things no member of this chamber could ever fathom. He serves as example to you, just as he does to us in this chamber.

“We are here to honor your dad and fight for him.”

Williams acknowledged that he and Salazar have had their differences, saying, “It’s no secret that we don’t agree on many things.” But, he said, Salazar “took the opportunity to do this with me when others passed.”

If the governor does not grant him clemency, Lima-Marin’s next parole hearing isn’t until 2053.


Photo of Rene Lima-Marin courtesy of Jasmine Lima-Marin

has been a political journalist since 1998. She covered the state capitol for the Silver & Gold Record from 1998 to 2009 and for The Colorado Statesman in 2010-11 and 2013-14. Since 2010 she also has covered the General Assembly for newspapers in northeastern Colorado. She was recognized with awards from the Colorado Press Association for feature writing and informational graphics for her work with the Statesman in 2012.