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Mercy unwarranted for Underwood, prosecutor says

By Johnny Johnson Modified: March 7, 2008 at 3:21 pm •  Published: March 7, 2008

"There have been incidences where juries relied on my opinions and in the aftermath, those were not supported by evidence," Meloy responded.

Tim Masters, who was convicted of murder nine years ago, was released from jail after new DNA results cast doubt on his first-degree murder conviction in the 1987 slaying of a Fort Collins woman, according to The Denver Post.

The woman, Peggy Hettrick, was found dead in a field near Masters' house. The Post reported that Masters became a suspect because his bedroom window faced the field where he could see the woman's sexually mutilated body and told police he didn't report it because he thought it was a mannequin.

When they searched Masters' room, authorities told the Post , they found a large collection of knives, daggers, a machete and a ninja sword, as well as a suitcase of "pornographic depictions of the female anatomy" and numerous drawings and stories created by Masters which depicted "surprise attacks, gruesome death scenes and scenes of violence and sex."

Due to lack of physical evidence, however, the case sat dormant for nearly a decade, but in 1997 Fort Collins police contacted Meloy, who was an expert in the ground-breaking field of the pathology of sexual, according to The Post's account.

"Meloy reviewed the drawings and narratives produced by Masters, together with other evidence in the case. He concluded that Masters killed Hettrick and in doing so, had symbolically killed his own mother. Masters' mother and Hettrick looked similar, including wavy red hair, the Denver Post reported on Jan. 22., a Website belonging to Court TV, reports that when Meloy was asked to review Masters' journals and drawings, the expert reported that he'd "never seen such a voluminous production by a suspect."

Despite a lack of physical evidence, the Web site says, Meloy's interpretation of two sketches in particular was enough to take the case before a jury.

"The first depicted a figure being dragged across the ground — just as the victim had been. Masters had admitted to drawing the picture the day after Hettrick was killed. Meloy then moved to the second drawing, dated the month prior to the murder. Its details closely resembled the victim's sexual mutilation. Meloy said that it represented a rehearsal fantasy of the way in which Masters wanted to sexually mutilate someone. The similarities between this drawing and the attack on Hettrick were uncanny, so in 1999, the jury found Masters guilty of first-degree murder," said.

But according to The Denver Post, several detectives who worked the case never believed Masters was guilty, and in January, nine years after his conviction, Masters was set free on bond as new DNA results showed no proof of Master's involvement and indicated there was another possible suspect, who has not been publicly identified. has disabled the comments for this article.