MISSOULA - A Missoula man who won a 14-year fight to erase a rape conviction was freed from jail last week and will spend another 200-plus days under state supervision, for a probation violation – but then he’ll be an entirely free man.
A state judge last Thursday placed Cody Marble on conditional release for 204 days, for the remainder of Marble’s sentence for a drug-possession charge while he was out on parole for the rape charge in 2013.
Marble told MTN News on Friday he still thinks the rest of the drug sentence should have been forgiven, when he was exonerated on the rape charge earlier this year.
But, he said being freed on conditional release until the sentence expires next May is the next best option.
Marble, 33, said he now plans to live and work in Missoula and do some volunteer work for the Montana Innocence Project, which helped overturn his 2002 conviction for raping a fellow inmate at a juvenile detention center in Missoula.
Marble said the rape never occurred and that fellow inmates set him up and lied at his trial, as retribution for perceived slights or misguided efforts to try to reduce their own charges or sentences.
Marble was released from prison in April 2016, after Missoula County prosecutors filed to dismiss the rape charge, saying the evidence no longer supported it. A state judge didn’t approve the dismissal until January of this year.
But Marble still had several months of probation remaining from the 2013 felony drug-possession charge.
While living in Conrad with his father this summer, Marble was involved in a parking-lot altercation with several people. His state probation officer told him to report to jail, but Marble instead fled the area.
His father, Jerry Marble, said his son decided in August to turn himself in, but then was arrested in Spearfish, S.D., on Aug. 23 as he was driving from the Midwest to Missoula to turn himself in.
Since then, Marble was jailed in Missoula until last Thursday’s hearing, when state District Judge John Larson set the terms of conditional release for Marble and ordered him released.
Marble, sentenced in 2002 to 15 years in prison for the rape he says never occurred, spent numerous years in prison while he fought to overturn the conviction.
His father, Jerry, told MTN News Friday that he still finds it “terribly inappropriate” that the drug sentence wasn’t ended when his son was exonerated on the rape charge. The wrongful conviction contributed to the drug use, he said, and that should be acknowledged.
“At that time he was still wrongfully convicted, registered as a sex offender,” Jerry Marble said. “Who wouldn’t turn to drugs and alcohol?
“I just with they would let go of him. He’s been exonerated. Let him go. I want him to be free, because that’s what he deserves to be.”