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Petition claims police withheld evidence in Dodge murder

By By Caleb James, Reporter
Published On: Sep 06 2012 12:10:43 PM CDT
Updated On: Sep 06 2012 07:33:01 PM CDT

Caleb James reports.

IDAHO FALLS, Idaho -

Local News 8 has obtained a copy of a petition that could alter the case against Christopher Tapp, who was convicted 15 years ago for the 1996 murder of Idaho Falls woman Angie Dodge.

The Idaho Innocence Project has filed a Verified Petition for Post Conviction Relief Based on Due Process Violations Pursuiant to Brady v. Maryland, which accuses the state of failing to turn over evidence that may have exonerated Tapp. The petition, which asks that Tapp's conviction get thrown out, was delivered to Bonneville County and the county prosecutor's office.

The petition states that exculpatory evidence, or evidence in defendant's favor, was withheld in Tapp's case, citing Brady v. Maryland as a precedent.

The petition alleges that information known and controlled by the Idaho Falls Police Department was not turned over to the defense.

"The average Joe on the street should be concerned that the police are withholding evidence," said Tapp's attorney, public defender John Thomas. 

The petition includes affidavits taken in July of this year from a couple living at an apartment on North Woodruff, near the place of the murder.

John Browning said at about 3 a.m. on June 13, a man knocked on his door. The man had blood on his clothes, gashes on his face and a rug burn on his chin.

Browning said in the affidavit that the man made him feel uncomfortable, and when he asked Browning if he could use the bathroom to wash up, Browning said he could use the hose but could not come inside.

Browning also said the man proceeded to explain the injuries and blood without any prompting from Browning or his wife, Gentri Nicole Morris Goff. In the affidavit, Browning recalled telling Goff that the man seemed to be looking for an alibi. Browning also said he gave an Idaho Falls detective the oral statement of what happened.

Goff gave a similar account, but said she was never contacted by police to corroborate her then-husband's story. Goff also said she remembered the man drove a motorcycle that had speakers bungee-corded to the back. According to the petition, in July, Tapp's legal team showed Goff a photograph of Jeff Smith, whom Goff identified as the man who came to their door.

Smith is mentioned as a suspect in Dodge's murder at least 10 times in detective Ken Brown's police report.

"He was in the police reports as a possible suspect," said Thomas. 

The petition states that Smith's identity should at least have been turned over to the defense, but it was not. The petition asserts that the Idaho Supreme Court has ruled that the prosecution violates the defendant's rights to due process when exculpatory evidence is withheld.

Bonneville County prosecutor Bruce Pickett received the petition on Thursday morning. 

"The fact that Chris Tapp can make multiple filings with the court, or submit new evidence... that goes to the strength of our court system, not to the weakness of it," said Pickett. 

If there is, in fact, new evidence, Pickett said the court welcomes it. 

Tapp was convicted after giving a confession in 1997 to the murder that he says he was pressured into by police.

Dodge's mother, Carol, has said that she does not believe Tapp killed her daughter.

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