February 20 2010, 9:45 AM
After spending nearly a decade in prison for a murder he did not commit, a $4.1 million settlement is a "good start" to helping 38-year-old Tim Masters rebuild his life. That's what one of Masters' attorneys tells CNN, after Larimer County commissioners voted in favor of settling a suit in which Masters alleged he was framed and prosecutors withheld evidence that worked in his favor. "There's no dollar figure that's going to give him back his 10 years," says David Wymore, another attorney representing Masters. "Tim just wishes this never happened to him, but it did." Masters was 15 when police accused him of the murder and sexual assault of 37-year-old Peggy Hettrick, whose body was discovered in a field near Masters' family home. He was convicted largely on circumstantial evidence and the testimony of an expert witness, who claimed Masters fit the profile of a sexual predator. A judge freed him in 2008 after DNA evidence was presented in the case, which remains unsolved (via the Los Angeles Times). "I would gladly pay $10 million, or whatever it took, if I could get those years of my life back. Unfortunately, that can never happen," Masters says in a statement. Another Masters attorney, David Lane, says the settlement would provide Masters, who has struggled to make a living selling items on eBay, with financial security. "He was released without a penny to his name. No $100 and a suit of clothes for Tim. He couldn't pay a parking ticket up to a couple of months ago," Lane adds. The county's insurance company is expected to pay $3 million, and $1.1 million will come from a county risk-management fund, according to the Loveland Reporter-Herald. Commissioners say they settled to avoid the potential of a higher payout following a trial. "I'm not a gambler with my money, and the taxpayers don't want me to gamble with theirs," says Commissioner Steve Johnson.