After more than two decades with a murder conviction hanging over his name, Christopher Tapp is expected to be exonerated for the murder of Angie Dodge on Wednesday.
“(T)here exists clear and convincing evidence that Petitioner (Christopher Tapp) was convicted of a crime for which he did not commit,” Bonneville County Prosecutor Daniel Clark wrote in his motion for post-conviction relief.
“(T)he State requests that the Court set aside the jury verdict and vacate the judgment of conviction in State of Idaho vs. Christopher Conley Tapp ... and dismiss the case.”
If the motion is approved by District Judge Alan Stephens, Tapp’s murder conviction will be cleared from his record.
Tapp said he was excited by the news.
“It’s an amazing feeling to actually almost be done with all of this,” Tapp said.
His longtime defense attorney, John Thomas, was also excited to see the motion filed. Thomas has represented Tapp for 10 years.
“It’s one of those career moments where you can’t believe it’s happening,” Thomas said.
Brent Dodge, Angie’s brother, said he could not be more excited for Tapp and his family. He recalled when Tapp was released from prison that Clark had told him it was “time for the community to heal.”
“It’s time for us to heal, and I think by doing this, we continue that process,” Dodge said.
Clark was not available to comment about the motion.
Tapp said he is still figuring out what to do if he is exonerated. He thanked his attorneys and the community for supporting him over the years. He also thanked the Idaho Falls Police Department and CeCe Moore for clearing his name.
Tapp was arrested in 1997 after he confessed to murdering Dodge with a group of other men. Tapp was found guilty in 1998 for first-degree murder and rape by a jury based on his confession.
In recent years numerous reports from former FBI supervisory special agents, wrongful conviction experts, polygraph experts and others have found that Tapp’s was a false confession made under police coercion.
Tapp gave police several names of the other participants, but none of them matched DNA samples found at the scene of the crime.
Thomas and Judges for Justice challenged Tapp’s confession on the basis that it was coerced by the Idaho Falls Police Detectives handling the case. Recordings showed police told Tapp he could face the death penalty if he did not confess and suggesting he wouldn’t be charged if he told police he only assisted in the murder.
Tapp signed a deal with the prosecutor’s office in 2017 that allowed him to be released from prison and have the rape charge dropped. The murder conviction, however, remained.
The case drew new attention in May when the police department announced they had found a match for the DNA samples from the crime scene. Brian Dripps admitted to police he raped and murdered Angie Dodge. He told them he was acting alone.
Detectives reviewed the case and investigated to see if there was any connection between Dripps and Tapp, who said he had never heard of Dripps until he was arrested. No connection was found. The prosecutor’s office’s motion indicates Dripps’ explanation of events matched evidence at the crime scene.
The motion for exoneration hearing will be held at 1 p.m. Wednesday in the Bonneville County Courthouse.
Thomas said he expects the hearing to be held in the Centennial Courtroom and that he hopes the community comes to witness it.
“This is really a monumental day for Idaho Falls,” Thomas said.