Who is Robert DuBoise? Florida man wrongfully jailed for 37-yr to receive $14mn - Hindustan Times
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Who is Robert DuBoise? Florida man wrongfully imprisoned for 37 years set to receive $14 million

ByShweta Kukreti
Feb 16, 2024 02:43 PM IST

Robert DuBoise, now 59, was initially sentenced to death for the murder of 19-year-old Barbara Grams. However, his sentence was later reduced to life in prison.

Florida man Robert DuBoise, who served 37 years in a jail for a 1983 rape and murder he did not commit, is now set to receive $14 million from the city of Tampa in compensation.

Robert DuBoise, 56, meets reporters with his sister Harriet, left, and mother Myra, right, following his release at the Hardee County Correctional Institute in Hardee County, Fla. (AP)
Robert DuBoise, 56, meets reporters with his sister Harriet, left, and mother Myra, right, following his release at the Hardee County Correctional Institute in Hardee County, Fla. (AP)

At the age of 18, DuBoise, now 59, was initially sentenced to death for the murder of 19-year-old Barbara Grams. However, his sentence was later reduced to life in prison.

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DNA testing, which was not accessible in the early 1980s, implicated two other individuals in the crime, resulting in DuBoise's release from jail in 2020. Following this, DuBoise sued the city of Tampa, the investigators who probed the case, and a forensic dentist who claimed that his teeth matched with the victim's alleged bite mark.

In August 1983, Grams was sexually assaulted and beaten to death while going back to her home from her job at Tampa restaurant. A medical examiner determined a wound on her cheek was a bite mark, prompting police to collect bite samples from other men, including DuBoise. Notably, the wound mark was produced with beeswax.

The forensic dentist established that the bite was caused by DuBoise, despite the fact that he did not know Grams but was frequented with the region where her body was discovered.

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Tampa City Council voted to provide $14 million compensation to DuBoise

While the lawsuit was settled on January 11, the Tampa City Council voted on Thursday to ratify it and officially give the $14 million to DuBoise.

Expressing regret over the wrongful imprisonment, council members stated the compensation is the least the city could do for DuBoise.

“This was a big mistake. I hope and pray this settlement will give him some measure of comfort, said council member Luis Viera, according to The Associated Press.

He was represented in the case by the Chicago-based civil rights firm Loevy & Loevy, which has handled countless wrongful conviction cases across the United States.

“The settlement is not only an acknowledgement of the harm that Mr. DuBoise suffered, but also an opportunity for him to move on with his life,” the law firm said in a statement.

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What did DuBoise say on compensation?

Speaking over the phone after the vote on Thursday, DuBoise expressed his willingness to buy a house as he is working as maintenance director at a Tampa-area country club.

“It means to me it's finally over. I'm glad I don't have to spend any more years of my life pursuing this,” he remarked as per AP. “Money, houses, cars, none of that stuff can ever restore what I lost. I don't feel bitter about anything. I don't want to waste my time with bitterness and pity parties.”

In a statement, Tampa Police Chief Lee Bercaw said that investigators have received better training in the years since the DuBoise case, and technological advancements have made significant progress in how such probes are handled.

“We recognize the profound and lasting effects of this case, especially on Mr. DuBoise nearly four decades later,” he said.

DuBoise and his legal company will receive $9 million this year, $3 million in 2025, and $2 million in 2026, according to city documents.

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