DA: Election outcome threat to Bebb-Jones case
The man in charge of prosecuting Marcus Bebb-Jones in the death of Bebb-Jones’ wife says he’s “gravely concerned” about the prospect that he may no longer be in office when the case goes to trial.
“This is the one thing that gives me most cause for concern,” 9th Judicial District Attorney Martin Beeson said Wednesday in regard to initial election results that left him with a 124-vote deficit in his race with challenger Sherry Caloia.
Bebb-Jones, 49, is charged with first-degree murder in the death of his wife, Sabrina. The two owned the Melrose Hotel in Grand Junction when she disappeared in 1997. Her skull was found in 2004 on Douglas Pass.
A six-week trial had been scheduled to begin this week. However, a judge agreed to postpone it until April 1 after Bebb-Jones’ public defender team said it only recently received physical evidence in the case along with information such as new prosecution witness testimony suggesting Sabrina had been shot.
Beeson had objected to the trial delay due to concerns about potentially having to hand it off to different prosecutors.
Motioning to thick binders of evidentiary material on the case in his office Wednesday, Beeson said he had probably a dozen or more of the binders, holding perhaps 12,000 pages overall.
“I don’t see how it’s reasonably possible, let alone probable, that (Caloia) or anyone in her office is going to be up to speed and ready to try this case on April 1,” Beeson said.
He said the case is far different from routine criminal cases because it’s a 15-year-old murder case.
He said he had attempted to communicate with Sabrina’s family Wednesday about the election results, but hadn’t been able to reach them.
Caloia said if she is elected, she’ll familiarize herself with the case, consult with the family, law enforcement and witnesses and take matters from there.
“It’s not the best situation, but I have already thought about people I hope to bring in to the office” as prosecutors, she said.
She said she wouldn’t make wholesale firings of the existing staff, and that there are good, experienced prosecutors she would hope to retain.
Beeson said only he, Assistant District Attorney Jeff Cheney and one other prosecutor have been working on the Bebb-Jones case.
Unfortunately, he said, voters don’t think about things such as a looming murder trial when they vote. Also, he said, in bigger offices with more staffing, it’s more likely that such a case would have been delegated to someone rather than being overseen by the DA himself.
Beeson said while Bebb-Jones previously has waived his right to a speedy trial, he’s currently entitled to one by April 19, and “very, very few” exceptions are granted to prosecutors.
“If I were a prosecutor, I wouldn’t be banking on a continuance,” he said.