Age at the date of crime: 17
Convicted of: Sexual Intercourse Without Consent
County of Conviction: Missoula County
Sentence: 20 years (all but the first five years suspended)
Years Served: 13 years (time served on the original sentence plus revocation)
Cost of Wrongful Incarceration: $468,000 (in 2015 dollars)
Cody Marble spent 13 years in prison for a crime he did not commit.
In March of 2002, Mr. Marble was released from the Missoula County Juvenile Detention Center, where he had spent the previous five months on a marijuana charge. Within a week of his release he was arrested for allegedly raping another juvenile while he was incarcerated at the Detention Center. He was convicted and sentenced to 20 years in prison with all but the first five years suspended.
In 2009 Mr. Marble contacted the Montana Innocence Project. He became the Project’s first client.
During its re-investigation, the Montana Innocence Project discovered Mr. Marble conviction occurred because our criminal justice system incentivizes people facing criminal charges to become witnesses for the government. In Mr. Marble’s case, the other juveniles who accused him of the rape were facing serious criminal charges and made up the rape as a way to have their own sentences reduced.
The juvenile who alleged he was raped recanted his story during several interviews with the Montana Innocence Project. We also discovered that a second witness admitted to lying during Mr. Marble’s trial about the rape. In addition, a guard at the detention center did not believe that a rape had occurred and two of the counselors who treated Mr. Marble as a condition of his sentence believed that he was innocent.
These recantations led Missoula County Attorney Kirsten Pabst to seek the dismissal of Mr. Marble’s case. As she stated, the case “lacks integrity and in the interests of doing justice, it must be dismissed.”
On January 3, 2017, Missoula County District Court Judge Ed McLean overturned Mr. Marble’s conviction and ordered a new trial. Ms. Pabst immediately moved to dismiss the case, which Judge McLean granted.