‘I’m not bitter’: Former Florida death row inmate suing Tampa police, wants to fix broken system

Southeast

TAMPA (WFLA) — After nearly four decades behind bars for a crime he didn’t commit, a Florida man is finally free and now suing the city of Tampa as well as the Tampa Police Department.

Robert DuBoise was released from prison in 2020 following a re-examination of a case stemming from the 1983 murder and rape of 19-year-old Barbara Grams. DNA evidence exonerated DuBoise, 56, after Florida’s Innocence Project and the Hillsborough State Attorney’s Office conducted a thorough, in-depth review of the case.

DuBoise told NewsNation affiliate WFLA that this new lawsuit is not about the money; it’s about justice and accountability.

“I work very hard,” he said. “I’m honest and I just want to help fix a broken system.”

Typically, the state of Florida provides $50,000 per year of wrongful incarceration. According to his attorney, DuBoise should be awarded a settlement of $1.85 million.

However, the awaiting compensatory action is far from immediate. The lawsuit must now wind its way through the judicial system, as well as receive approval from the state legislature.

Duboise maintains that the nightmare began when he says he was framed by Tampa police officers in the mid-1980s. The lawsuit filed by his attorney, Dan Marshall, includes the city of Tampa, the police department and a forensic specialist who played a key role in the trial.

“I’m not bitter toward any of them,” he told WFLA. “What’s done is done, and we are trying to move forward, make sure it doesn’t happen to someone else.”

A jury found Duboise guilty of raping and killing Grams, sending him to prison in 1985.

“I had my faith,” he said. “I knew God would get me through this. I had to believe that.”

For years, Duboise says he woke up every morning terrified and alone – but hopeful. He maintained his innocence, even as he sat on death row, endlessly frustrated, but also consistently faithful.
He never gave up, he says, and that’s part of the reason he says he filed this lawsuit.

“It’s very frustrating waking up every morning in prison for something you didn’t do, and you’re fighting a system (with) unlimited resources, and you have no resources,” DuBoise said. “You’re helpless.”

The Tampa Police Department and the city declined to comment on the case because it is considered current litigation.

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