Maketa retrial set for October
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.