Plea-deal talk delays arraignment of Bebb-Jones in death of wife
GLENWOOD SPRINGS — A judge Wednesday delayed the arraignment of Marcus Bebb-Jones by a day as the possibility of a plea deal in his murder case loomed.
Bebb-Jones was scheduled to enter a plea in connection with a first-degree murder charge in the death of his wife, Sabrina, who disappeared in 1997. The two owned the Melrose Hotel in Grand Junction at the time.
Her skull was found in 2004 on Douglas Pass in Garfield County.
Deputy public defender Matt Morriss told 9th Judicial District Judge Dan Petre negotiations have continued in the case and he anticipates a plea, but some paperwork and victims’ rights matters still were being dealt with.
Petre delayed Bebb-Jones’ arraignment until this morning. Out-of-state members of Sabrina Bebb-Jones’ family are expected to attend.
Assistant District Attorney Jeff Cheney said after Wednesday’s brief proceedings that a possible plea bargain agreement has been reached.
“I can’t say it’s going to happen. It’s going to be up to the defendant” to decide whether to accept the offer of prosecutors, he said.
Petre bound over Bebb-Jones for trial earlier this year after a preliminary hearing. District Attorney Martin Beeson has said a trial could last six to eight weeks and up to 200 witnesses could be called.
In May, Beeson revealed in court that a key Garfield County sheriff’s investigator in the case would not be testifying if the case goes to trial. Eric Ashworth resigned from the sheriff’s department, apparently over allegations that he improperly used a department credit card.
Nevertheless, Beeson was anxious last month to see the case go to trial, telling Petre then that although he was willing to participate in more plea-deal discussions, he was dubious about the prospects of an agreement being reached and worried about any further delays in the case. Beeson, a Republican, is concerned that if he loses in this fall’s election to Democratic challenger Sherry Caloia, a new administration not familiar with the case could inherit an ongoing trial.
Bill Middleton also has been heavily involved in investigating the Bebb-Jones case for the sheriff’s office. Sheriff Lou Vallario has said he believes Middleton and Ashworth usually worked together on aspects of the case such as interviews, so Middleton could testify to things that they learned.