State trooper fights charges in Kemp killing

Colorado State Patrol Trooper Ivan “Gene” Lawyer makes his first appearance in Judge Richard Gurley’s court in November. He is charged with criminally negligent homicide and criminal trespass in the July shooting death of Jason Kemp of Grand Junction.

A Colorado State Patrol trooper lacked “the specific culpable mental state” to commit any of the six crimes charged by a grand jury in the fatal shooting of an unarmed Redlands man, an attorney argued in a motion filed Tuesday.

Eric Fenster, the Denver-based attorney representing accused State Trooper Ivan “Gene” Lawyer, urged District Court Judge Richard Gurley to consider Lawyer’s “state of mind” during the July 20, 2010, encounter with 31-year-old Jason Alan Kemp.

In addition, Fenster wrote the judge should weigh Lawyer’s “rank and role in the subject investigation, his reasonable beliefs and all affirmative defenses available to him at trial,” in reviewing the grand jury’s indictment. Fenster’s motion asked the judge to dismiss the charges for lack of probable cause.

District Attorney Pete Hautzinger has until Jan. 24 to respond to the motion.

Lawyer was charged by the grand jury with counts of criminally negligent homicide, second-degree assault, first-degree criminal trespass, illegal discharge of a firearm, prohibited use of a weapon and criminal mischief.

Fenster’s motion was raised Tuesday morning during a hearing in Gurley’s courtroom, where Lawyer and State Patrol Cpl.  Kirk Firko made brief appearances.

Firko is charged with two counts of first-degree criminal trespass, attempted first-degree criminal trespass and criminal mischief.

Kemp was shot in the chest and killed by Lawyer after he and Firko repeatedly pounded and kicked at the front door at 103 Glade Park Road, Unit B. Kemp, who refused to open the door for the lawmen, was the suspected driver of a vehicle involved in a minor traffic accident.

Lawyer told the grand jury he thought he’d been shot during the confrontation before pulling the trigger himself, according to the indictment.

State Patrol spokesman Nate Reid on Tuesday said both men remain on unpaid administrative leave.

Lawyer and Firko are scheduled to return to court March 8.


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