DA concedes Stagner might never face a jury trial
GLENWOOD SPRINGS – For the first time in the year since Michael Stagner was arrested for allegedly killing four Mexicans in Rifle, district attorney Mac Myers acknowledged there might be no jury trial.
“At this time, no expert witness has found the defendant sane at the time of the crime. If Dr. (Richard) Pounds, Dr. (Daniel) Martell and Dr. (Park) Dietz find the defendant insane at the time of the crime, it is possible that there would be no need for a jury trial on the merits,” Myers wrote in a motion he filed June 27 to request a delay in Stagner’s trial.
The trial is scheduled to start July 29.
A similar situation occurred in July 1998 in Colorado’s First Judicial District.
Lakewood mother Bethe Feltman waived her right to a jury trial and instead faced First District Judge Ruthanne Polidori in a public court trial.
Undisputed reports from two psychiatrists led Polidori to conclude after a one-hour trial Feltman was insane when she killed 3-year-old Benjamin and 3-month-old Moriah on April 9, 1997, in a bout of postpartum depression.
If Stagner is found to be insane after his examination at the Colorado Mental Health Institute in Pueblo, he, too, could waive a jury trial and instead go before a judge who would determine if he is insane.
The Rifle shootings occurred the night of July 3, 2001. Juan Hernandez-Carrillo, Melquiades Medrano-Velazquez, Juan Carlos Medrano-Velazquez and Angelica Toscano-Salgado were shot and killed near the Bookcliff Mobile Home Park in Rifle. Three others were injured.
Stagner, 43, faces 19 charges, including eight counts of first-degree murder and three counts of attempted murder. He was arrested July 3, 2001, just minutes after allegedly shooting seven people. Since his arrest he has been held without bond in the Garfield County Jail. If convicted of the murder charges, he could receive the death penalty or life in prison, but if found not guilty by reason of insanity, he could be relegated to a mental hospital.
Ninth District Judge T. Peter Craven ruled he will decide whether to postpone Stagner’s murder trial at a hearing on July 15.
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