Wrongfully Imprisoned Tampa Man Awarded $14m Settlement After Spending Nearly Four Decades in Prison

February 17, 2024 - Reading time: 2 minutes

A Tampa man who was wrongfully convicted and spent nearly four decades in prison has been authorized to receive a compensation of $14 million.

Robert DuBoise, the victim of this miscarriage of justice, expressed his gratitude for the settlement, stating that he hopes others in similar situations can achieve justice before it's too late for them.

DuBoise was 18 years old when Barbara Grams, a 19-year-old woman from Tampa, was raped and murdered while walking home from her job at a restaurant in August 1983. A medical examiner determined that someone had bitten Grams on one of her cheeks, leading investigators to take bite samples from multiple men, including DuBoise. The authorities concluded the bite belonged to DuBoise, who did not know Grams but frequented the area where she was found dead. He was sentenced to die in 1985, though his punishment was later reduced to life imprisonment.

DNA testing that was unavailable at the time of Grams's murder eventually implicated two other men: Amos Robinson and Abron Scott. Both are currently serving life sentences for a different slaying and awaiting trial on first-degree murder charges in connection with Grams's death. The forensic dentist who initially determined that DuBoise bit Grams later retracted his finding, stating he no longer believed bite marks could be matched to any one individual. Additionally, the testimony of a prison informant claiming DuBoise had admitted to murdering Grams was discredited.

DuBoise earned his release from prison in 2020 with help from the Innocence Project organization that supports the wrongfully convicted. He then sued Tampa's city government, police investigators, and the forensic dentist who linked him to Grams's body. While Tampa maintains that none of its investigators engaged in intentional wrongdoing, the city and DuBoise agreed to settle his lawsuit on 11 January. The city council then voted at a meeting on Thursday to pay $9 million to DuBoise and his law firm this year, $3 million in 2025, and $2 million in 2026, documents show.

DuBoise still resides in Tampa and supports himself as a maintenance director at a local country club while doing other repair jobs. He stated that the vote meant his legal ordeal was "finally over" and expressed gratitude for not having to spend any more years of his life pursuing this case. Although he has lost much, DuBoise does not feel bitter about anything and wants to move forward with his life.

DW Staff

David Lintott is the Editor-in-Chief, leading our team of talented freelance journalists. He specializes in covering culture, sport, and society. Originally from the decaying seaside town of Eastbourne, he attributes his insightful world-weariness to his roots in this unique setting.