Hurlbert to stay on Rockne case
GEORGETOWN – Summit Country District Attorney Mark Hurlbert will continue to prosecute the attempted murder and sexual assault case against Breckenridge local Erik Rockne, a county judge decided on Wednesday.Rockne’s defense, led by Denver attorney Larry Pozner, requested that a special prosecutor be assigned to the case because Hurlbert’s office is currently prosecuting the alleged victim in a separate case. Any negative impact to her through that case would put Hurlbert at a disadvantage because she is the star witness in the Rockne case, which depends heavily on her credibility, Pozner said at the two-hour hearing on Wednesday.Rockne, 39, is accused of sexually assaulting and badly beating his girlfriend of four years during a late-night argument at his home last November.In a separate incident, the alleged victim is charged with arson, criminal mischief and domestic violence stemming from an April arrest for allegedly trying to burn down the condominium of a former boyfriend with whom she had been staying.Hurlbert’s office is prosecuting that case, putting him in a situation where he has to decide whether to protect his star witness or prosecute her to the fullest extent, which would likely mean jail time if she’s convicted, Pozner said. Pozner also argued that in a 10-year criminal history in Summit County, including four DUI arrests, drug possession and theft charges, the alleged victim has never been sentenced to a day in jail or been arrested for violating bond conditions on at least a dozen occasions. Most recently, the District Attorney’s office didn’t file bond violations charges against her when she was arrested in April.His client, on the other hand, was picked up for violating his bond conditions for giving a ride to the alleged victim’s son who was hobbling down the road on crutches, and spent President’s Day weekend in jail.”It’s just proof that there are two levels of justice. One for the incredibly important witness” and another for someone in the rifle scope of the prosecutor, Pozner said.Hurlbert argued that the defense did not meet its burden in proving a need for a special prosecutor, saying the vast majority of the alleged victim’s criminal past occurred before the Rockne case. The only case that should be considered by the court is the alleged arson incident, Hurlbert said, and he’s already filed felony charges, dismissing the idea of bias toward his star witness.Hurlbert said he is not afraid to prosecute a case when a witness is in jail, citing a first degree murder conviction he won 18 months ago when three witnesses were incarcerated during the trial.He said this situation is no different from many others his office deals with.”There are cases all over the state, all over the district, when the victim has a crime pending against him or her and we prosecute those cases,” Hurlbert said.Judge Olguin-Fresquez denied the motion for a special prosecutor saying she hadn’t seen any proof that Hurlbert was more lenient with the alleged victim compared with other defendants, and that he had already put himself at a disadvantage, in a sense, by filing charges in the alleged arson case.The judge also ruled on Wednesday that the alleged victim will be required to attend Friday’s preliminary hearing, but held off on deciding whether she will have to actually take the stand.
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