Chuck Garrison, a former Breckenridge resident who was convicted in 2002 of the brutal murder of his wife, was denied his request for a retrial. Eagle County Judge Frederick Gannett made the ruling Monday.
Garrison filed a petition to have his guilty verdict overturned in 2011, saying his original attorney had been ineffective in his presentation of evidence to the jury and in his closing arguments.
The judge disagreed. In a ruling released Wednesday, he stated Mark Johnson had not fallen below a reasonable standard of professional assistance and that, even if it had, there was nothing to suggest the outcome at trial would have been different with a better defense.
“I was not surprised,” District Attorney Bruce Brown said of the ruling. “The court sees him as a man who is grasping for straws at this point. I’m very satisfied with the court’s judgement in this case. Clearly, Judge Gannett recognizes these claims were without merit and we hope it puts an end to the seemingly endless appeals process that Mr. Garrison has engaged in.”
Garrison can chose to appeal the judge’s decision, and his current attorney, David Wymore said he is already working on doing so.
“We don’t believe (Gannett) got the facts or the law correct,” Wymore told the Summit Daily. “We intend to appeal ... hopefully we’ll have a more reasoned and diligent review of the record.”
He was sentenced to 30 years in prison after a jury found him guilty of second degree murder — heat of passion, for killing his wife with an ornamental pick ax in their house during an argument in 2000. Her body was found a few weeks later wrapped in a tarp and buried in the couple’s backyard.
The two had been married for 10 years and had experienced domestic troubles in the weeks and months leading up to Sharon’s death. Both had filed for divorce but had never gone through with it.
In his petition to have his conviction overturned, Garrison held his wife had been under the influence of a number of prescription drugs the night she died which a medical expert could testify could have caused her to display aggression, irritability, lack of impulse control, paranoia and misperception. He argued if his initial attorney had called an independent expert to testify as much before the jury the verdict might have been different.
But Gannett was not convinced, saying the couple’s troubled history, Garrison’s own testimony at trial — during which he stated that the crime was preceded by a heated argument — and the repeated lies he told to authorities between his wife’s disappearance and his trial would likely have still led to a guilty verdict.
“The court finds substantial, credible and probative evidence supporting the conviction for second-degree murder — heat of passion unaffected by any interference that victim manifested aggression, irritability, lack of impulse control (etc.) ... as a consequence of mixing diet pills with cold medication and/or thyroid medications,” Gannett stated in his written decision.