Convicted Killer Sentenced For Murder That Put Innocent Man In Prison For Decades

Victim Angie Dodge’s mother told Brian Dripps he ‘shattered’ her family and ‘there is no way to pick up the pieces ever again.’

June 22, 2021

Angie Dodge [screenshot via Discovery Inc.]

Angie Dodge [screenshot via Discovery Inc.]

By: Aaron Rasmussen

The perpetrator of a teenager’s 1996 sexual assault and murder has been sentenced to life in prison after DNA connected him to the crimes for which an innocent man served almost 20 years in prison.

On June 8, Judge Joel Tingey of Idaho’s Seventh District Court ordered Brian Leigh Dripps Sr., 55, to spend at least 20 years behind bars before he is eligible for parole.

“Twenty-five years is a long time to wait for some type of closure on such a brutal crime,” Judge Tingey said, noting that “it’s impossible to quantify” the widespread damage caused prior to justice finally being served, The New York Times reported.

In June 1996, Angie Dodge, 18, was asleep when Dripps broke into her Idaho Falls apartment, raped her and then cut her throat, nearly decapitating the victim, according to prosecutors.

For more on this heartbreaking story, stream Who Killed Angie Dodge? Keith Morrison Investigates on discovery+ now.

Detectives with the local police department interviewed Dodge’s neighbors at the time, including Dripp, but the case went nowhere. A year after the crimes, however, investigators’ focus fell on Dodge’s friend, Christopher Tapp.

After a reported 23 hours of questioning, Tapp admitted to aiding another assailant in the murder, and he was arrested — even though authorities found no physical evidence connecting him to the violent case.

Tapp quickly recanted what he insisted was a coerced confession and pleaded not guilty to Dodge’s rape and murder. In 1998, a jury convicted him anyway, and he received a 30-years-to-life sentence.

In 2016, genetic material collected at the crime scene was tested and did not come up as a match with Tapp’s DNA. His rape conviction was vacated in 2017, and 45-year-old Tapp was exonerated of murder in 2019 following years of advocacy by individuals and groups, including the victim’s mother, Carol Dodge, who insisted he couldn’t have committed the slaying.

In May 2019, Idaho Falls Police Chief Bryce Johnson announced law enforcement had arrested the true murderer, Dripps, thanks to genetic genealogy. Dripps pleaded guilty to the rape and first-degree murder charges against him.

“A young man spent a significant portion of his life in prison for no good reason. He was innocent. That falls on you,” Judge Tingey recently told Dripps at sentencing.

The convicted murderer apologized for carrying out the crimes, saying he “didn’t intend for this to happen” and wished he “could have a chance at a do-over.”

“I can’t forgive you, ever,” the victim’s mother told him. “You have shattered our family. And there is no way to pick up the pieces ever again.”

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