After Unexpected Twists, Justice for Angie Dodge

Brian Leigh Dripps pleads guilty to 1996 murder following another man's wrongful conviction
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 10, 2021 12:35 PM CST
After Unexpected Twists, Justice for Angie Dodge
Brian Dripps is sworn in during his plea hearing at the Bonneville County Courthouse on Tuesday in Idaho Falls, Idaho.   (John Roark/The Idaho Post-Register via AP, Pool)

Carol Dodge initially thought police had found the man who killed her daughter nearly 25 years ago. In fact, prosecutors convicted the wrong man—a fact Dodge herself helped discover. Christopher Tapp, who did not match DNA evidence from the scene, was cleared after serving 20 years in prison for the June 1996 rape and murder of Idaho teen Angie Dodge, based on what he said was a coerced confession. Meanwhile, police identified a new suspect with help from a genetic genealogist. On Tuesday, all of the hard work paid off. Brian Leigh Dripps, 55, pleaded guilty to raping and killing the 18-year-old, who lived across the street from him in Idaho Falls. "All I really know is I went over there with the intent to rape her," Dripps told a Bonneville County court, per East Idaho News. "I didn't mean to murder her. I guess it just happened when I was there."

Dripps, who was arrested in May 2019 after a discarded cigarette butt presented a DNA match, said he'd been using cocaine and alcohol that night and couldn't remember the murder itself. But "I had a pocket knife with me," he said. The teen had been stabbed to death in her apartment, per the Idaho Statesman. Her brother, Brent Dodge, said Tuesday was "a good day" in that it brought "some finality" to the case. "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," he said, adding the family was "looking forward to healing." The judge at Dripps' April 27 sentencing hearing is expected to follow the recommendation of 20 years to life outlined in the plea agreement. (Here's why Carol Dodge initially pored over the case.)

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