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Idaho Falls settles wrongful conviction lawsuit for $11.7M

The Idaho Falls City Council voted to accept the settlement agreement with Christopher Tapp, who spent about two decades in prison after being wrongfully convicted.

IDAHO FALLS, Idaho — Officials in the eastern Idaho city of Idaho Falls have agreed to pay $11.7 million to a man who spent about two decades in prison after being wrongfully convicted.

The Idaho Falls City Council voted Thursday to accept the settlement agreement with Christopher Tapp.

Tapp was convicted of rape and murder following the 1996 death of 18-year-old Angie Dodge. He was released in 2017, and DNA evidence cleared him in 2019.

Brian Leigh Dripps was arrested on DNA evidence in 2019 and pleaded guilty to rape and first-degree murder in Dodge’s death. He was sentenced to life in prison last year.

“No dollar amount could ever make up for the over 20 years of my life I spent in prison for crimes I did not commit," Tapp said in a statement. "However, the settlement will help me move forward with my life.”

Tapp sued the city of Idaho Falls and the Idaho Falls Police Department in October 2020, the East Idaho News reported. The city asked that the lawsuit be dismissed, but opted to settle the lawsuit Thursday.

“Please accept this sincere apology to you and to your mother, Mrs. Tapp, for the city’s role in your wrongful conviction and subsequent incarceration, as well the harm and damages that you and your family have endured over these many years,” Idaho Falls Mayor Rebecca Casper wrote in a letter to Tapp. “We at the city of Idaho Falls hope that the resolution of your civil case and this sincere expression of an apology help bring healing and closure to both Mrs. Tapp and to you."

Casper also wrote that the city will review its policies and procedures to prevent another wrongful conviction.

Lawmakers last year passed the Idaho Wrongful Conviction Act, which cleared the House and Senate unanimously and was signed into law by Republican Gov. Brad Little.

In June of last year, Little and three other statewide-elected members of the Idaho Board of Examiners approved a payment to Tapp of $1.2 million.

According to that law, if Tapp received a monetary award from the Idaho Falls lawsuit, he would have to reimburse the state the $1.2 million.

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