BONNEVILLE COUNTY, Idaho - The attorney for the man convicted of raping and murdering 18-year-old Angie Dodge in her Idaho Falls apartment in 1996 says his client is not guilty, despite a judge's Wednesday ruling that a 1997 confession from Christopher Tapp will stand.
Tapp's conviction rested largely on a confession his attorneys said was coerced by then-detective and now Idaho Falls mayor Jared Fuhriman.
Public defender John Thomas doesn't question if Tapp is innocent. He said it's an issue of time.
"There's a killer out there," said Thomas. "There's someone who killed Angie Dodge and they're still running around loose."
Thomas said he may never have been so sure of anything.
"I believe in my heart of hearts, Chris Tapp is not the killer," he said.
Thomas said Wednesday's ruling by District Judge Joel Tingey was a surprise. The ruling, he said, was presented to his client, but not to him. It stipulates there will be no dismissal of Tapp's 1997 confession to the murder of 18-year-old Angie Dodge.
"The prosecutor and the police have admitted that the only evidence they really had was Chris Tapp's confession," said Thomas.
The confession was taken by Fuhriman.
"Sixteen years later we're trying to rehash everything that happened, and the problem is, people don't remember," said Thomas.
Fuhriman himself had trouble remembering on the stand in February. There were several times he told both Prosecutor Bruce Pickett and Thomas that he couldn't recall events in question.
Even Angie Dodge's mother, Carol, said she has trouble believing Chris Tapp is her daughter's killer. After a phone call with Carol Dodge on Thursday, we passed the phone to Thomas.
"We're going to hunt him down, Carol," said Thomas, as he assured Dodge they would find her daughter's true killer. "I promise you that."
Our station reached our to Pickett. His office said he is on vacation.
Fuhriman released the following statement Thursday:
"It has always been a main priority of mine, both as a city official and a uniformed peace officer, to ensure that the citizens of Idaho Falls have a diligent, just and professional court process. The recent post-conviction trial involving Christopher Tapp and the work done by our County Prosecutor have been a testament to that practice. As a citizen of Idaho Falls and a former police officer involved in this case, I am satisfied with the ruling that was handed down and am confident that it was fair and accurate.
"It is also important to remember the victim in this crime and the family that has long suffered. As a father myself, I want to express my continued sympathy for the Dodge family and their loss."