Judge denies bid by state trooper to suppress evidence in fatal shooting

Poor performance by a lawyer isn’t a good enough reason to throw out statements made by a Colorado State Patrol trooper during a criminal investigation, a judge said in a recent ruling.

In an order issued Jan. 12, District Judge Richard Gurley denied a motion to suppress evidence in the case. The motion was filed by Denver attorney Harvey Steinberg, who represents State Patrol Cpl. Kirk Firko, one of two troopers charged in the July 20, 2010, shooting death of Redlands resident Jason Kemp.

In the motion, the latest in a series of defense efforts to toss evidence in the case, Steinberg argued that Firko’s statements during the investigation should be thrown out because Firko had ineffective assistance from an attorney. Gurley, however, said there’s no law cited in the defense motion allowing for suppression of evidence based on claims of bad attorney advice. The judge cited other grounds for denial.

“(Firko’s) right to counsel had not attached when the interviews occurred,” the ruling said. “The right to counsel attaches upon the filing of a criminal information or indictment.”

Kirko and his colleague, Trooper Ivan “Gene” Lawyer, were indicted in October 2010 by a Mesa County grand jury in connection with Kemp’s death.

In a separate motion to suppress evidence, Firko’s defense claims statements made by Firko to investigators of the Mesa County Sheriff’s Department on July 21 and Aug. 20, 2010, were made “through coercion, threats, promises of leniency and misrepresentations.”

Prosecutors dispute the defense claims. Gurley has yet to rule on the motion.

Firko and Lawyer are scheduled for separate trials starting April 2 and April 9, respectfully.


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