Robert “Rider” Dewey spent 17 long years in prison for a rape and murder he did not commit. During that time, he endured constant legal setbacks and personal tragedies. This is how he made it to the other side.

September 2013

May 21, 2013 A few weeks before Governor Hickenlooper is scheduled to sign the bill, Rider is still staying at other people’s homes, still mostly broke, still occasionally waiting in dark rooms for prison guards who will never arrive. But he’s optimistic now. He finally worked out a way to visit his grandkids. The first time they told him how much they loved him, he melted. On this morning in the Grand Junction home of his friend Ginger Becker, all is quiet. We’re looking into a pond she built in the front yard. Three toads perch at its edge. Every night Rider hears them barking some mating call—he likes to think maybe they’re just having a party—and it makes him smile. What kind of toads are they? Becker responds in her croaking, raspy voice: “Just some old toads.” Rider aims for more precision: “Big-ass toads.” Becker’s large black Lab, named Lovey for obvious reasons, wanders over to Rider’s side. He idly strokes her head. He’s finally petting a dog. There’s a pile of tools in Becker's garage and a Harley that needs fixing. It’s hers, but he loves working on it just the same. Inside, Rider shows off some pictures, one of his son, and then some of his grandkids: That’s Little Shawn. That’s Tela. Their home in Missouri is the first place Rider will visit when the compensation comes. He’ll take a Harley, hit the open road, and escape to the family he still has. This time it won’t be a dream. “Come on,” he says to no one in particular, flipping through the images of his grandkids. “You tellin’ me you wouldn’t just give them the world?” m Bryan Schatz profiled Speaker of the House Mark Ferrandino in the March 2013 issue of the magazine. Email him at letters@5280.com.