Idaho Man Pleads Guilty to 1996 Rape and Murder of Angie Dodge Decades After Innocent Man's Conviction
Brian Leigh Dripps, 55, entered his plea Tuesday morning as part of a deal set forth by prosecutors who agreed to ask the judge for Dripps to serve a life sentence with the possibility of parole after 20 years.
An Idaho man pleaded guilty this week to the 1996 rape and murder of Angie Dodge –– a crime that left the wrong man locked behind bars for nearly 25 years, according to reports. Brian Leigh Dripps, 55, entered his plea Tuesday morning, nearly two years after he was arrested, as part of a deal set forth by prosecutors who agreed to ask the judge that he serve a life sentence with the possibility of parole after 20 years, the Post Register reported.
Dodge was 18 years old when she was sexually assaulted and murdered in her Idaho Falls apartment in June 1996. A year later, the wrong man was convicted in her murder while her actual killer walked free.
"I didn't mean to murder her," Dripps said in court this week, according to the Post Register.
He continued, confessing that the night of Dodge's murder, he was high on cocaine and alcohol and only visited her with the "intent to just rape her."
Dripps said that he remembers raping Dodge, but when asked by a judge if he remembers cutting her throat with a pocket knife, he said "no."
Despite not remembering, he did not deny killing her, according to the East Idaho News. He pleaded guilty to first-degree murder and rape. Dripps could still withdraw the plea and take the case to a jury trial.
In the months following Dodge's brutal murder, Christopher Tapp became a person of interest in January 1997, even though his DNA did not match the scene. Tapp ended up giving a false confession and in 1998 he was convicted by a jury for the rape and murder of Dodge, according to the East Idaho News.
Over the years, Tapp was supported by the victim's mother, who did not believe he was the true assailant, and the Innocence Project, which eventually gathered more DNA evidence from the scene and tested it in 2016. There was no genetic material found that connected Tapp to the scene.
Tapp was released in 2017. His murder sentence was reduced to time served and his rape conviction vacated, CBS News reported. He was exonerated in 2019 after Dripps became a suspect via genetic genealogy, which matched his semen to the crime scene.
He confessed on May 15, 2019 when questioned by detectives, according to reports.
“Today was a good day in that there’s some finality to it,” Brent Dodge, Dodge’s brother, told EastIdahoNews.com. “As we heard Brian Dripps plead guilty and admit to killing my sister and to raping her, there was some finality there that we’ve got the right guy this time and we’re looking forward to healing and going through the process of grieving.”
"We would like to thank the Idaho Attorney Generals Office for their diligent efforts to see this case through the prosecutorial stages and in reaching this plea agreement - which included Mr. Dripps admitting his guilt in court this morning," Idaho Falls Police Department Jessica Clements said via email. "We hope that Carol and the Dodge family may feel some measure of peace as they process the hearing today and the upcoming sentencing."
Dripps will be sentenced on April 27.
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