Dear Gov. Brad Little,
You may not know me, so please allow me to introduce myself. My name is Carol Dodge. I do not know a lot about politics, but I do know a lot about injustice.
My precious daughter Angie was viciously murdered in 1996. She was my only daughter and the light of my life when she was ripped away from me.
I cannot begin to tell you of the hours, the days, weeks, months, and the years I spent looking for her killer. I traveled many miles looking for justice, and I spent countless days in the neighborhood where was she murdered, repeatedly asking everyone I could find that had any information about who might have done it.
In 1997, Christopher Tapp was arrested and was convicted in 1998. At one point, I even visited him in jail and begged him to tell me who else was with him when she was murdered. I asked him what her last words were, and I remember being so angry that he wouldn’t tell me. It wasn’t until I watched several hours of Chris’s coerced interrogation tapes that I finally realized he actually was innocent, and he had no idea who had killed her. That was a hard truth to face and a turning point. I knew that getting justice for my daughter would mean both finding the true killer and getting Chris out of prison. I worked for years on both.
This case ripped me and other members of my family to pieces because of many political influences that fought every move to justice that I attempted. I can’t even begin to explain to you how many lives were destroyed by this case.
After far, far too long, Chris finally was released in 2017 and eventually exonerated in 2019. Thanks to the hard work of many people and advances in DNA technology, the real killer, Brian Dripps, is finally awaiting trial for my daughter’s brutal murder. After 23 years, it seemed that justice for my daughter might finally be close.
However, when you vetoed the bill that would give compensation to wrongfully convicted people like Chris Tapp, you threw another barrier up for justice. I can’t even begin to comprehend why you did such a thing. So I would like you to explain it to me, and I would like you to answer this question: Who got to you?
In 1998, when Chris was convicted, he was merely a boy. When he was finally released from prison, he was almost 40 years old. Don’t you think the state of Idaho owes him something, a lot actually, for all the years that were wrongly taken from him? Over the years, I have become close friends with Vera, Chris’s mother. Did you know she mortgaged her home and worked two jobs for many years to pay for his challenge to his wrongful conviction? Don’t you think she deserves some respect from you and some compensation? Did you know that Chris’s father died while Chris was doing time for a wrongful conviction? Imagine all this injustice took place while he was an innocent person.
In addition, my heart also aches for Charles Fain, who was also wrongfully convicted just like Chris. Charles spent 17 years on death row as an innocent man. Although Chris at least had a support network of family and friends when he got out of prison, Charles Fain does not seem to have much support at all. In fact, when Charles was released from prison he was only given a pair of prison dungarees, a jacket and a bus ticket. Yet, when he testified before the House and Senate regarding the compensation bill, he only asked for enough money to buy a car to get him around safely, and also have his teeth fixed. Gov. Little, shame on you for denying this man compensation for such simple essential things!
I know that Rep. Doug Ricks worked hard for many months to resolve all the objections to his compensation bill, and he seems to have done a good job at that since almost everyone in both the House and Senate voted in favor of the bill. If you had problems with this bill, why didn’t you stand up like a man and bring your issues forward beforehand? So, I will ask you again, governor: Who got to you?
One thing everyone can agree on is this: While I may not have all the answers, I am persistent in my search for the truth. I respectfully await your answer.