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Gov. Hickenlooper Pardons Man Freed From Prison Early, Then Detained By ICE

DENVER (CBS4) -Gov. John Hickenlooper has issued a pardon to Rene Lima-Marin, a man convicted of armed robbery, sentenced to 98 years in prison, mistakenly released early, then placed back in prison after six years and taken into custody by Immigration and Customs Enforcement on the day his family expected him to be ultimately released.

Lima-Marin came to the U.S. from Cuba when he was 1 year old. He never applied for citizenship but U.S. relations with Cuba allowed him to stay. That continued until Lima-Marin was convicted of armed robbery and flagged for deportation in 2000.

(credit: Jasmine Lima-Marin)

On Friday afternoon, Hickenlooper announced his pardon during a news conference.

"He demonstrated the ability, in terms of rehabilitation, to contribute to the fabric of his community and to Colorado. He has rebuilt his life to become a law-abiding productive member of the community," said Hickenlooper.

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Gov. John Hickenlooper (credit: CBS)

Lima-Marin was sentenced to 98 years in prison for the crime but he was released early by mistake and spent six years living in Aurora and starting a family before he was once again sent back to prison to serve the rest of his sentence.

The governor said he agreed with a judge's ruling this week that keeping Lima-Marin behind bars after he was released and started a family and new life would be "draconian."

"This is clear example of someone who did everything to get a second chance," said Hickenlooper.

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(credit: CBS)

This spring the Colorado legislature sent a measure to the governor's desk that would grant freedom to Lima-Marin. And just this week, three years after his re-incarceration, a Colorado judge ordered that he be released from prison. Before that release was completed, ICE agents intervened and took him into federal custody on a detainment hold.

"We just got off the phone with Rene to give him the news and he is humbled and in many ways, didn't have the words to describe how thankful he felt," said Lima-Marin's attorney Hans Meyer.

It is unclear how the pardon will impact Lima-Marin's hold by ICE.

"I hope he doesn't get deported," said Hickenlooper.

"I'm grateful to Governor Hickenlooper for his incredible act of mercy and humanitarian relief to Rene and his family.

"This was never a partisan issue, and I was honored to have worked with Rep. Salazar, Rep. Rosenthal, Sen. Hill & Sen. Moreno in helping to achieve this outcome. All three branches of our Colorado government came together to reunite Rene with his family, and at the end of the day that is what matters most," said Rep. Dave Williams, a Republican representing Colorado Springs.

"When government gets in the way of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, it's our job as elected representatives of the people to preserve those rights. We're grateful to Governor Hickenlooper for joining with the legislature in helping to resolve this problem," said Sen. Owen Hill, a Republican representing Colorado Springs.

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