Clarence Moses-EL’s defense team calls for DA Mitch Morrissey’s removal from case

Clarence Moses-EL’s defense team filed an emergency petition with the Colorado Supreme Court today asking that District Attorney Mitch Morrissey’s office be disqualified from re-prosecuting the case. With the emergency petition, Moses EL’s attorneys have requested a special prosecutor, arguing that any reasonable DA would not retry this case.

Moses-EL’s attorneys say that Morrissey repeatedly spread “mistruths” about their client’s case to both the news media and the state legislature.

Last December, after he spent 28 years in prison, Moses-EL’s conviction for the 1987 rape of a woman in Denver’s Five Points neighborhood was overturned. LC Jackson, the man whom the victim first named as her attacker, has confessed to sexually assaulting the victim that night.

Partly because of communication errors from Morrissey’s office, important DNA evidence relevant to the case — which a judge had ordered to be tested — was destroyed by the Denver Police Department, despite being placed in a box marked “do not destroy.”

The new trial is set for November 7 and could take as long as two weeks. Jury selection, for which 700 summons have already been sent out, is set to begin November 4.

Judge Candice Gerdes, a former prosecutor out of Morrissey’s office, cited the fact that juror summons had already been sent out as part of her reasoning for not granting Moses-EL’s defense team the continuance they sought today.

Prior to filing today’s emergency petition, defense attorney Gail Johnson asked Judge Gerdes for a continuance of the trial, arguing that the case should not be retried at the sunset of Morrissey’s career. She said that the city should wait for a new DA.

Johnson then mentioned DA frontrunner Beth McCann’s statement that she would not retry the case, which McCann made during the DA debate held by The Colorado Independent last month.

Jurors for the new trial would not be told about the destroyed DNA evidence nor Moses-EL’s nearly three decades in prison. They would not be told why Moses-EL was on trial for a crime that occurred in 1987, nor that the defendant’s previous conviction was overturned.

If granted, the emergency petition would simply stay the trial, offering Moses-EL no guarantee that he would not face trial eventually.

Moses-EL, who has staunchly maintained his innocence since the beginning, says the trial would be a waste of taxpayer dollars. Still, he says he’s not concerned about the outcome of a retrial.

“I ain’t trippin’ on this,” he said.

The Colorado Independent is a statewide online news source operating in a time when spin is plentiful, but factual, fair and unflinching news in the public interest is all too rare. Our award-winning team of veteran investigative and explanatory reporters and news columnists aims to amplify the voices of Coloradans whose stories are unheard, shine light on the relationships between people, power and policy, and hold public officials to account. We strive to report the news with context, social conscience, and soul, and to give Coloradans the insight they need to promote conversation, understanding and progress in this square, swing state we call home.

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