Jurors find Maketa not guilty
Former sheriff cleared on three counts, but jury was hung on four others.
The jury in the corruption trial of former El Paso County Sheriff Terry Maketa has returned three not guilty verdicts and found itself hung on four other counts.
The trial, which began in Colorado Springs on June 27, concluded Tuesday as the jury found Maketa not guilty on charges of tampering, conspiracy tampering and official misconduct.
The jury could not come to agreement on charges of extortion, conspiracy to commit extortion and two counts of first-degree official misconduct.
A grand jury indicted Maketa last year on charges including extortion, official misconduct, witness tampering, kidnapping and false imprisonment — all felonies — in an 11-page document that also named his former Undersheriff Paula Presley, with whom the married Maketa was alleged to have had an affair, and former Cmdr. Juan San Agustin.
Amid the scandal, Maketa resigned at the end of 2014 before his third and final term was up.
The indictment, which came after an investigation by the Colorado Bureau of Investigation, stated that Maketa and Presley used their power to take punitive action against employees and contractors they disagreed with. It also alleged the pair, along with Agustin, encouraged a domestic violence victim to recant her story — and then arrested her — to protect the deputy accused of attacking her.
The charges of witness tampering, kidnapping and false imprisonment alleged Maketa talked to a woman, who was a civilian employee working for a health contractor at the El Paso county jail, after her boyfriend, a deputy, had been arrested and fired for beating her.
The Colorado Springs Gazette reported last month that 22 potential jurors had been dismissed because they already thought the exsheriff was guilty.
On Monday, Maketa declined to testify in his own defense. The jury then began deliberating after closing arguments in the eight-day trial.
Despite the jury failing to come to an agreement on four of the charges, Assistant District Attorney Mark Hurlbert thanked jurors for their service. The case is being prosecuted by the office of 18th Judicial District Attorney George Brauchler, who is also mounting a run for governor.
“These were legitimate allegations that were taken seriously by the people of El Paso County,” Hurlbert said in a news release. “We respect the judicial process and appreciate the conscientious work of the jury.”
The cases against Presley and San Agustin are pending.