Christopher Tapp is a free man today after spending 22 years behind bars for a crime he did not commit. Now, Tapp is an advocate for the wrongfully convicted. A jury convicted him in the 1996 rape and murder of 18-year-old Angie Dodge. He was released in 2017 and exonerated in 2019 after Brian Dripps confessed to the murder.
Dripps was identified as the most likely suspect in Dodge’s case through new DNA evidence. He is jailed and awaiting sentencing today. Tapp also confessed to the murder, which was later determined to be a false confession.
Dodge’s mother, Carol Dodge, became an ally to Tapp. She believed police had the wrong man behind bars. ABC 20/20 is digging into the ongoing court case on a new episode, which airs today, Friday, March 12, 2021 at 9 p.m. Last week, Tapp was standing next to Idaho Gov. Brad Little as the Wrongful Conviction Act was signed into law.
Here’s what you need to know:
Tapp Filed a Lawsuit Against Idaho Falls & the City’s Insurance Company Sued Also, Saying They Should Not Have to Cover Potential Costs
Tapp filed a lawsuit against Idaho Falls for his 20-year incarceration for a crime he did not commit. He filed a 57-page complaint in federal court in October 2020 against the city of Idaho Falls and several officers who were involved in his case.
“The police lied to him, threatened him with death, fed him false details about the crime and then lied and claimed the details originated with him,” Peter Neufeld, one of Tapp’s attorneys, told EastIdahoNews.com.
Tapp, who goes by Chris Tapp, spent more than half of his life behind bars.
“Because of what the Idaho Falls Police did to me, I lost the opportunity to raise a family, pursue a career, and to share in the most basic freedoms that we all live for,” Tapp said in a news release at the time. “I continue to live every day with the nightmare of the 22 years the Idaho Falls police stole from me.”
A hearing had not been scheduled for his lawsuit as of January 14, 2021, according to the Idaho State Journal. At that time, another lawsuit was filed against Idaho Falls, this time by the city’s liability insurance company.
Idaho Governor Brad Little Signed the Wrongful Conviction Act Into Law Last Week & Tapp Is Working With Other States to Pass Similar Bills
Idaho Governor Brad Little stood along Chris Tapp as he signed the Wrongful Conviction Act into law March 5, 2021. The law requires that people who served time for crimes they did not commit receive compensation, according to East Idaho News.
“This is a good bill, this is the right thing to do,” Little said at the time. “As our justice process morphs over the years, unfortunately, there’s been people wrongfully convicted that are long gone now. This proposal, this legislation … it’s just one of those things that is good public policy.”
The law allows for exonerees to receive a fixed sum of $62,000 for each year of wrongful imprisonment or $75,000 for each year wrongfully served on death row.
“This law will give wrongfully convicted people assistance to restart their lives,” Tapp said. “To help them get into the process of moving on from this nightmare we have endured and continue to experience. I appreciate we are here today in Idaho Falls, the scene of my wrongful conviction, but I also want to acknowledge Charles Fain who is back in Boise.”
Fain spent 17 years on death row in the murder of a 9 year old. He was exonerated in 2001. Tapp is working with other state governors to sign similar bills into law in their own states.
“I just spoke on legislation on Wednesday in Oregon about compensation, so I’m not done,” Tapp said at the signing. “This is just the first step of me continuing on because this is a truly important thing that needs to be done for the wrongfully convicted. It’s truly important to know that people recognize we’ve been wrongfully convicted and this will be part of it.”