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Idaho Innocence Project's lost funding impacts Tapp case

By Tyler Berg
Published On: Nov 06 2013 11:14:54 PM CST

The Idaho Innocence Project in Boise has been working to free wrongfully imprisoned people in Idaho, but the non-profit organization is losing most of its funding.

IDAHO FALLS, Idaho -

The Idaho Innocence Project in Boise has been working to free wrongfully imprisoned people in Idaho, but the non-profit organization is losing most of its funding.

The U.S. Department of Justice denied the renewal of a two-year, $220,0000 grant, which is nearly 80 percent of the project's funding. The Idaho Innocence Project has been working on two major cases, those of Christopher Tapp and Sarah Pearce. In 1997, Tapp was convicted of Angie Dodge's murder in Idaho Falls.

Bonneville County Public Defense Attorney John Thomas has been working to prove Tapp's innocence for three years. He said the help of the Idaho Innocence Project has been a big help, lending investigative and DNA support to the case.

"They've worked hard on it and they're fairly well-invested into the case," said Thomas.

Thomas says the lost funding will hit the project hard.

"It costs a lot of money to hire an attorney and to have attorneys, secretaries and the whole office staff going," said Thomas. "That's why they had the federal grants."

So, where does this leave Tapp? Thomas said they are still in the discovery stage of the latest post-conviction hearing, but they're working toward an evidentiary hearing.

"There are some things I can't really talk about right now, but there are some things in the works that will fairly shortly come to light," said Thomas.

Thomas said the lost funding will not affect the latest post-conviction petition they filed, but the affect will be felt later down the road in not only Tapp's case, but future cases throughout Idaho.

"If you want an expert in DNA to write your brief for you, you want to call the Innocence Project. If you have a specific issue about DNA, you want to call the Innocence Project," said Thomas. "So, a lot of our cases, if they involve DNA, they're going to have implications around the state."

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