Chris Tapp fought his conviction for the 1996 rape and murder of Angie Dodge for 21 years until assistance from the Idaho Innocence Project and DNA evidence prompted his release from prison in 2017. For two years, Tapp was free but a convicted felon. In 2019 the same DNA evidence that freed him revealed Dodge’s true killer. Tapp received an $11.7 million settlement for his wrongful conviction from the City of Idaho Falls.
“Hope’s a funny thing. For years, I knew I was innocent but you lose hope and faith. The powers that be continue to say you’re guilty and you lose yourself,” Tapp said. “It took them a few years before the Idaho Innocence Project picked me up. That’s when the ball started to roll.”
Since his exoneration and the settlement, Tapp has begun working with advocates and lawmakers in several states to compensate the victims of wrongful convictions. In his efforts to help others like himself, he has made a sizeable gift to the Idaho Innocence Project, which works alongside affiliated organizations, law firms and laboratories to help free the wrongfully incarcerated.
The organization has helped release more than three dozen people in the U.S., and Tapp’s has been among its highest-profile cases. Boise State students participated in the effort, conducting analysis of biological evidence and reviewing recordings of Tapp’s interrogation.
Because the State of Idaho has not officially acknowledged that it correctly preserves biological evidence in cases of murder and forcible rape, the Innocence Project cannot use certain federal grants on Idaho cases. Tapp’s gift, said Idaho Innocence Project Founder and Director Greg Hampikian, is a “bridge” that allows it to continuously pursue justice and brings hope to the wrongfully imprisoned in the Gem State.
“Chris has given such a rich blessing. Our work is full of surprises not covered by grants. I have no doubt that his gift will make the difference between prison and freedom for one or more innocent Idahoans,” Hampikian said.