Judge delays ex-cop’s trial in shooting

A judge on Monday delayed the trial of a former police officer after a potentially critical letter turned up days before the start of the trial.

Richard Bacher, 57, a longtime local law enforcement official who’s charged in an accidental shooting at a sporting goods store in February 2008, is now scheduled for trial over two days starting Sept. 1.

The trial had been scheduled to start today.

Mesa County Court Judge Bruce Raaum on Monday ordered the delay after he ruled Ninth Judicial Deputy District Attorney Ed Veronda violated Colorado rules of criminal procedure when he informed Bacher’s defense about the existence of a letter on Saturday — three days before the start of Bacher’s trial.

“This is not making a mountain out of an anthill,” Raaum said before slapping prosecutors with the violation.

In the letter, a witness in the case recounts handing a rifle to Jerry Stehman, the owner of Jerry’s Outdoor Sports, 507 30 Road, on the morning of Feb. 9, 2008. The witness said Stehman then handed the rifle to Bacher.

The weapon fired as it was being handled by Bacher, wounding a co-worker at the store, Kenny Franklin.

The letter’s claims would counter a long-held position of prosecutors: That the witness in question gave the rifle directly to Bacher, prior to the accident.

Stephan Schweissing, an attorney who represents Bacher, said he didn’t know about the existence of the letter until Saturday morning after he received a phone call from Veronda.

He told the judge he wasn’t able to read it until Monday morning.

Bacher is charged with criminal negligence causing bodily injury with a deadly weapon.


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