The Home Front: Prosecutors in trial of Colorado sheriff accused of corruption are scrambling

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The Home Front: Prosecutors in trial of Colorado sheriff accused of corruption are scrambling

“Less than two weeks before disgraced ex-El Paso County Sheriff Terry Maketa is set to go to trial, prosecutors have issued a distress call — telling a judge in a request for a delay it will be ‘impossible’ for them to be prepared,” reports The Gazette in Colorado Springs. “The eleventh-hour disclosure comes at a perilous time for the prosecution. Maketa, who pleaded not guilty in December to nine counts alleging corruption in office, has a constitutional right to a trial by a June 17 deadline. Prosecutors have asked a judge to postpone Maketa’s May 31 trial date, and a hearing is set for 10 a.m. Friday. If a judge rules against a postponement, prosecutors must proceed to trial, prepared or not, or risk having the case dismissed.”

“Hours before the clock expired last week, state lawmakers reached a bipartisan agreement about where it is legal to consume marijuana in Colorado,” reports The Denver Post. “Moments later, it went up in smoke. The legislation attempted to define — for the first time — a statewide prohibition on ‘open and public’ pot consumption under Amendment 64, the voter-approved constitutional measure that legalized marijuana in 2012. And its failure on the final day of the session showcased why the issue remains one of the most profound questions in a state known as the nation’s pot pioneer. ‘They got all the way to the 1-yard line and couldn’t punch it in,’ said Kevin Bommer with the Colorado Municipal League, the organization that led the effort for a uniform standard.”

“Greeley Police Chief Jerry Garner said he and his officers know who murdered 12-year-old Kayleah Wilson in spring 2010. Garner said detectives just need to gather enough evidence to prove it,” reports The Greeley Tribune. “‘We don’t have any doubts,’ he said, ‘but there are standards of proof we have to meet.’ Today marks the seventh anniversary of the discovery of her body. Seven years ago in March, Kayleah’s name became a household word when she vanished as she made her way to meet a friend at the Greeley Mall before the two were supposed to attend a birthday party together. When her mother, April Wilson, hadn’t heard from her daughter later that night, she called the police.”

“Linda Smith wanted to help children,” reports The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel. “The 61-year-old Grand Junction woman firmly believed in the good in every child, and for years opened her home to foster children. “She wanted to save all the throw-away kids,” said sister Jenny Scears, a Clifton resident. “She didn’t like the fact that they were moved from home to home to home to home. … She wanted to keep them all and she wanted them all to have a home.”Smith, whose sisters described her as an eternal optimist with a compassionate heart, was found dead in February with multiple stab wounds on her body. A then-14-year-old foster child who had been recently placed in Smith’s home was later arrested and charged with murder.”

“The wet snow that fell Thursday — ‘our water supply coming down’ — reiterated the need for Chimney Hollow Reservoir, Eric Wilkinson said the day after learning the reservoir received final approval,” reports The Longmont Times-Call. “The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ final decision allowing Northern Water to build Chimney Hollow Reservoir southwest of Loveland, issued 14 years after the federal permitting process began means, that construction could begin in late 2018 and water begin filling in 2022. That same year, an open space around the reservoir with trails, backcountry camping and boating should open under the management of Larimer County’s Department of Natural Resources. The permits that allow Northern Water to finish design and begin building the $400 million reservoir on behalf of 13 municipal water providers, including Loveland, require several different actions to mitigate environmental damage or concerns.”

“Additional evidence that is allegedly connected to former Fremont County Sheriff’s Office Detective Robert Dodd was found and recovered Wednesday from the Phantom Landfill in Penrose,” reports The Cañon City Daily Record. “According to the Pueblo Chieftain, Cañon City resident Rick Ratzlaff, who also discovered evidence from a 2006 homicide in December, received a tip Wednesday from Phantom Landfill worker Robert Orton who said that more apparent evidence had been found from a dumpster that was collected from Dodd’s former residence. Dodd has been charged with abuse of public records and two counts of second-degree official misconduct after the evidence found by Ratzlaff caused an investigation by the Colorado Bureau of Investigations.”

“Three fatal Garfield County wrecks this week highlighted the dangers of the road, during what’s been a particularly deadly beginning of the year,” reports The Glenwood Springs Post-Independent. “To date in 2017, Garfield County has already seen seven fatal vehicle crashes that have resulted in nine fatalities. Last year, the coroner counted 12 fatal vehicle crashes that resulted in 14 fatalities, and that’s including a couple of off-road vehicle crashes. In 10 of last year’s fatal wrecks, alcohol and/or other drugs were found to be significant factors, according to the coroner’s annual report. In eight of those fatalities seat belts were not worn. The three recent fatal crashes seem to have little in common that county leaders could pinpoint. One reportedly involved drinking. Another was a backroad Jeeping accident. And the third was a head-on collision on a highway.”

“The state Economic Development Commission on Thursday unanimously approved Pueblo’s request to move ahead with the state-funded improvements to the Historic Arkansas Riverwalk of Pueblo,” reports The Pueblo Chieftain. “The 11-member commission, meeting in Denver, noted the success of recent talks between Pueblo leaders and state Office of Economic Development staff to clarify and finalize plans for a project that over the past five years has periodically caused friction between Pueblo and the state agency. On Wednesday, Stephanie Copeland, the new director of the state Office of Economic Development, issued a letter saying the talks led her to “strongly recommend” approval. Elsewhere, EDC members also praised the goals of the project, a public-private partnership set to bring tens of millions of dollars of tourism, convention, club sports and Home of Heroes attractions and other improvements to the Riverwalk area. The state has pledged $37.5 million in current and future state sales tax revenue support.”

“In the nights since their father was shot to death on a busy Greeley street, Alberto Ruiz’s children have cried themselves to sleep, waiting for their father to come home,” reports The Coloradoan in Fort Collins. “Ruiz, known to his friends and family as Beto, was shot and killed in broad daylight while driving down a bustling 29th Street in what police believe was a violent case of road rage. And while police look for leads in this case — his suspected killer has not been arrested — more motorists are worried about the dangers of road rage, especially when a driver flashes a gun. Although law enforcement does not specifically track road rage cases in which someone is shot or brandishes a gun, experts believe that a rising number of road rage cases involve firearms.”

“Messy roads under a deluge of wet spring snow didn’t stop more than 100 citizens from packing the Municipal Building on Thursday night for a nearly four-hour public hearing on the proposal to house chronically homeless young adults in downtown Boulder,” reports The Boulder Daily Camera. “The Planning Board was finally set to vote on the project, after about a year and a half of often-spirited community debate. Anticipating a lot of citizen input, the board started its meeting an hour early on Thursday, but public comment still lasted until after 11 p.m. Because of the late hour, the board decided to postpone its deliberation and vote to May 30 at 6 p.m. The development up for approval would bring a three-story building to what is currently a surface parking lot at 1440 Pine St. The land for the project is being donated by First United Methodist Church, which owns the entire block, to the local nonprofit Attention Homes.”

“Crews replaced cracked and aging sewer lines along Narrow Gauge Avenue and beneath the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad depot this spring without digging a trench,” reports The Durango Herald. “Instead, the city’s contractor broke apart old pipe of clay and iron with a bullet-shaped pneumatic hammer that pulls the new high-density polyethylene pipe behind it, Utilities Director Steve Salka said. The hammer is driven by a compressor and dragged by a winch in the path of the old pipe. Once broken up, the old pipes stay in the ground around the new pipe. “It’s an 8-foot-long missile,” he said. The pipe-bursting technique left infrastructure such as railroad lines undisturbed, saved the city money and allowed the city to maintain sewer service to customers. The technology, while not new, is likely to be used far more often around town, Salka said.”

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About the Author

Corey Hutchins

is a journalist in Colorado, and Columbia Journalism Review's Rocky Mountain correspondent for the United States Project. Follow him on Twitter @CoreyHutchins and email him at CoreyHutchins [at] gmail [dot] com.

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