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Former candidate for Congress accused of killing man exonerated in murder case

A former congressional candidate who once ran for office in Nevada and Texas has been arrested on a murder charge in the death of a man exonerated after serving more than 20 years in prison for a crime he didn’t commit.

A criminal complaint filed Monday in Las Vegas Justice Court alleges Daniel Rodimer, 45, killed Christopher Tapp, 47, after a fight in a Las Vegas hotel room in October.

An arrest warrant affidavit from a Las Vegas police detective indicates the fight was unrelated to Tapp’s earlier wrongful conviction.

Rodimer was arrested Wednesday and released on a $200,000 bond, the court docket shows. His attorneys, David Z. Chesnoff and Richard A. Schonfeld, tell CNN there were no travel restrictions included in the bond.

“He intends on vigorously contesting the allegations and asks that the presumption of innocence guaranteed all Americans be respected,” Chesnoff and Schonfeld said in a written statement.

Rodimer – a former professional wrestler from New Jersey – unsuccessfully ran for Congress in Nevada in 2020 and in a special election in Texas in 2021.

Tapp was convicted of murder and rape in the fatal stabbing of an 18-year-old Idaho woman and sentenced to life in prison in 1998. He was imprisoned for 21 years before his conviction was overturned after DNA testing proved that another man was responsible.

Tapp advocated for others who were wrongfully convicted. He worked alongside Idaho Sen. Doug Ricks to help pass state legislation that compensates those who spent time behind bars for crimes they did not commit, according to CNN affiliate EastIdahoNews.com.

Christopher Tapp testified in favor of legislation that would compensate the wrongly convicted in March 2020 in Boise, Idaho. - Keith Ridler/AP
Christopher Tapp testified in favor of legislation that would compensate the wrongly convicted in March 2020 in Boise, Idaho. - Keith Ridler/AP

According to the police detective’s affidavit obtained by CNN affiliate KTNV, Rodimer and Tapp attended the same Halloween party on October 30 at Resorts World Las Vegas. Witnesses told police that Rodimer became upset after Tapp allegedly offered cocaine to Rodimer’s stepdaughter, the affidavit stated. CNN has requested a copy of the affidavit.

A witness told police that he heard Rodimer say, “If you ever talk to my daughter again, I’ll f**king kill you,” immediately followed by “two loud banging noises,” according to the affidavit attached to the complaint.

A witness who spoke to police said she saw Rodimer “knock Christopher to the ground, at which time Christopher’s head hit a small table.”

Then, Rodimer punched Tapp “throughout his head and body,” the affidavit stated. Other witnesses said they later found Tapp on a bed awake but with a swollen face and “a large mark on the left side of his neck.”

Tapp was taken to the hospital, where he died several days later.

The Medical Examiner ruled Tapp’s death a homicide by blunt head trauma, according to the criminal complaint.

CNN’s Dakin Andone contributed to this report.

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