Fort Collins Settles Tim Masters Lawsuit For $5.9M

Larimer County Previously Settled For $4.1M

The city of Fort Collins has settled Tim Masters' civil rights lawsuit against the city for $5.9 million, officials announced Tuesday.

City Manager Darin Atteberry confirmed the settlement on the city's website and said $1.575 million will come from city reserves and the remainder will be paid by the city's insurance carrier.

"The decision to settle this case does not mean the city agrees with Mr. Masters’ allegations," said Atteberry. "To the contrary, we remain firmly convinced that Lt. (James) Broderick and the other officers who investigated the Peggy Hettrick homicide did so in good faith, using the best technologies and expert consultants that were available to them at the time. The decision to settle the case is strictly a business decision that reflects the financial realities and risks of proceeding to trial.”

Atteberry told 7NEWS it would have cost the city $2 million to go to trial, not including any judgment that might rendered. He said the settlement was the largest in the city's history.

Masters was convicted in the 1987 murder of Peggy Hettrick, in 1999, but his conviction was overturned when new DNA evidence was found in 2008 that did not belong to Masters.

His attorney, David Lane, filed a civil rights suit against the county, city and employees of the district attorney's office and Fort Collins Police. The lawsuit alleges that Fort Collins and Larimer County officials ignored, withheld or destroyed evidence pointing to his innocence.

The county had previously settled their part of the lawsuit for $4.1 million.

Atteberry said the cost to fight the Masters lawsuit was about $344,000, of which the city paid a $150,000 deductible and its insurance carriers paid the remainder.

"While Tim Masters has achieved some measure of justice as a result of this settlement, he would gladly trade all the money for the return of 10 years of his life behind prison bars and 10 years before that of living under a cloud of suspicion," said Lane.

No other suspect has been named in the case and Hettrick's case remains unsolved.