Hankins’ defense objects to delaying case
Public defender files motions in pending local murder trial
October 31, 2008
Defense attorneys have objected to a prosecution motion to delay a pending murder trial while awaiting a Colorado Supreme Court decision.
Terry Hankins, 71, of Craig, is charged with first-degree murder and abuse of a corpse in connection with the June 2007 death of his wife, 34-year-old Cynthia Hankins, also of Craig.
He has pleaded not guilty and, as of now, is scheduled for a two-week trial beginning Dec. 1 in Routt County District Court.
But it’s unknown whether that trial will begin as planned.
During a seven-day motions hearing in September, Michael O’Hara, chief judge of the 14th Judicial District, ruled that three recorded confessions Hankins gave to investigators be suppressed because of a Miranda violation.
The 14th Judicial District Attorney’s Office filed an appeal with the Colorado Supreme Court seeking to reverse the judge’s ruling on the statements and followed the appeal with a separate motion, this one with Judge O’Hara, to delay the trial until the Supreme Court hands down its ruling.
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The prosecution’s appeal stated that it was “not taken for the purposes of delay and the evidence suppressed is a substantial part of the proof of the charges pending against the defendant.”
On Tuesday, Hankins’ public defender, Sheryl Uhlmann, filed an objection to the prosecution’s motion to delay the trial, as well as a motion to dismiss the appeal.
According to the objection, Uhlmann contends the pending appeal is “improperly taken for the purposes of delay so that the prosecution will have additional time to obtain forensic testing results” from the Colorado Bureau of Investigation.
The objection also states that the case against Hankins has been pending for more than a year and that he has been in custody during that time without bond.
Hankins, according to the document, agreed to a Dec. 1 trial, a date that was beyond a speedy trial, but mutually agreed upon by attorneys in the case.
“Mr. Hankins has not and does not make any further waiver of his speedy trial rights,” Uhlmann wrote.
She added that, if the current trial date is vacated, “it is almost certain the District Court will not be able to find another reliable date for many months to come given docket congestion.”
Neither Judge O’Hara nor the Supreme Court has ruled on the motions before them in the Hankins case.
The three statements under review were recorded conversations between Hankins and local investigators Aug. 24, 2007.
On the recordings, Hankins was heard describing his wife’s murder and later, dismemberment, after an altercation at the couple’s Breeze Street apartment in Craig. He said he then buried Cynthia Hankins near his gold mining claim 23 miles north of town, near the Wyoming border.
O’Hara ruled that Hankins had implicated himself and was, in reality, in police custody before the first confession and should have been read his rights.
The judge used the statements’ suppression as his basis for relocating the trial to Steamboat Springs, citing pretrial publicity of the statements in Moffat County as enough to possibly interfere with Hankins’ right to a fair trial.
Hankins remains in custody at the Moffat County Jail.