Holzer defense argues that some evidence in case obtained illegally

Austin Holzer

Attorneys for Austin Holzer on Monday presented evidence to back up their request that a judge throw out evidence gathered from the accused teenage killer’s social media accounts, which they contend was illegally obtained.

Holzer, who was 17 when he allegedly shot and killed Mesa County Sheriff’s Deputy Derek Geer in February 2016, is set to be tried as an adult for murder in Mesa County District Court in January.

Public Defenders Scott Burrill and Sheryl Uhlmann have asked presiding District Judge Richard Gurley to suppress several types of evidence as Holzer’s case heads to trial.

Burrill said Monday that instead of requesting warrants for Holzer’s multiple email addresses and his Yahoo email account, investigators following up on Geer’s shooting should have requested a subpoena for the people who managed those records.

“Essentially what we are contending in this particular case is that the prosecution and law enforcement proceeded in an unlawful fashion,” Burrill told Gurley on Monday.

Mesa County prosecutor Mark Hand argued Monday that Burrill hadn’t cited any rule or statute that backed up his claims.

Holzer’s defense team has also faulted investigators for requesting warrants for those accounts from Mesa County District Judge Brian Flynn, who wasn’t handling the case.

“Rather than going through the assigned judicial officer and providing notice to the opposing party, the prosecution instead elected to proceed in secret in front of a different judge on the search warrant at issue,” Burrill wrote in a July 3 pleading.

Mesa County Sheriff’s Investigators Robert Tyer and Mike Piechota both testified on Monday, however, that obtaining the warrants from Flynn had nothing to do with prosecutorial strategy.

“When I came to the courthouse, he was the first one that was available,” Tyer said.

Piechota gave a similar answer, adding that he “started at one end of the (courthouse) hallway,” until he came to a judge who was free to review the affidavit.

Gurley has yet to rule on a variety of pretrial issues. Holzer is due back in court for a status conference on Aug. 22.

His defense attorneys are expected to argue their case for moving his trial out of Mesa County at a motions hearing Sept. 5.


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