Maketa re­trial set for Oc­to­ber

The Denver Post - - NEWS - By Jakob Rodgers

COLORADO SPRINGS» For­mer El Paso County Sher­iff Terry Maketa’s self-pro­claimed “vic­tory” in a sweep­ing cor­rup­tion case dark­ened Mon­day when pros­e­cu­tors opted to pur­sue the four charges that dead­locked a pre­vi­ous jury.

Maketa is bound for trial Oct. 3, mean­ing he must de­fend him­self anew against claims of ex­tor­tion and of­fi­cial mis­con­duct that likely cost him more than $100,000 in at­tor­neys’ fees — some ex­perts spec­u­lated — in the first go-around.

The de­ci­sion to retry came Mon­day dur­ing a con­fer­ence call over­seen by 4th District Judge Larry E. Schwartz, and it set off a wave of spec­u­la­tion about fu­ture le­gal ma­neu­ver­ing. That’s be­cause Maketa’s em­bat­tled for­mer un­der­sh­er­iff heads to trial the same day — mak­ing nec­es­sary a plea deal, a trial post­pone­ment or a sur­prise le­gal twist to fix the dou­ble­book­ing.

No hear­ing date for Maketa was set to sort out last-minute le­gal fil­ings be­fore the next round of ju­rors ar­rives.

Maketa’s case ended in a par­tial mis­trial last week, when a jury ac­quit­ted the for­mer three­term sher­iff on three counts but failed to reach a ver­dict on four oth­ers.

Some ob­servers cast the re­trial de­ci­sion as a po­lit­i­cal dilemma for gu­ber­na­to­rial can­di­date and 18th Ju­di­cial District At­tor­ney George Brauch­ler: retry Maketa and pos­si­bly alien­ate some in El Paso County’s Repub­li­can base, or risk fac­ing ac­cu­sa­tions of let­ting the once-pop­u­lar law­man skate on cor­rup­tion charges.

In choos­ing the for­mer, Brauch­ler opted for the more po­lit­i­cally fraught path, one that doesn’t help the state’s Repub­li­can Party, said Colorado Col­lege pro­fes­sor emer­i­tus Bob Lo­evy, a po­lit­i­cal sci­en­tist.

But, Lo­evy added, pol­i­tics aren’t sup­posed to drive pros­e­cu­to­rial de­ci­sions.

“From my point of view, he has cho­sen much the less palat­able op­tion, po­lit­i­cally,” Lo­evy said. “He’s a lawyer. He’s sworn to up­hold the law. My as­sump­tion is he made the de­ci­sion on the ba­sis of the law.”

Brauch­ler and pros­e­cu­tors han­dling the case de­clined to com­ment through a spokes­woman.

Last week, Maketa was ac­quit­ted of two felony charges of wit­ness tam­per­ing and one count of mis­de­meanor of­fi­cial mis­con­duct.

But a jury couldn’t agree on four other charges. Brauch­ler’s of­fice said Maketa will be re­tried on all of those counts.

Two felony ex­tor­tion charges al­lege that Maketa told a con­trac­tor to fire a woman who crossed him po­lit­i­cally or lose its $5 mil­lion-per-year con­tract pro­vid­ing health care ser­vices at the El Paso County jail.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.