Police files might not help defense of gun mishap at store, prosecutor says

A local judge’s order, asking Mesa County law enforcement agencies to turn over files regarding accidental shootings, might not help defense attorneys for men involved in a Feb. 9 shooting at Jerry’s Outdoor Sports.

Deputy District Attorney Ed Veronda told Mesa County Judge Bruce Raaum and store owner Jerry Stehman that the Grand Junction and Fruita police departments are the only law enforcement agenices in the county that could assemble the information defense attorneys requested.

Lawyers for Stehman and his co-defendant, store employee and former Delta Police Chief Richard Bacher, have argued the records of accidental shootings could show whether prosecutors are singling out their clients for selective or vindictive prosecutions.

“If nobody else is charged with an accidental discharge,” that would show selective prosecution, Joseph Olt, Stehman’s attorney, argued.

Raaum said he would order the prosecution to look for the records and turn over what it could find.

Veronda said the Grand Junction Police Department’s computer system, unlike that of the Mesa County Sheriff’s Department, could sort out reports of accidental shooting.

He said officers at the Fruita Police Department could come up with the accidental shooting files, relying on their memories of when such cases occurred.

Stehman and Bacher both face charges related to the accidental shooting at the store, which left 54-year-old Kenny Franklin shot in the stomach. Franklin has since recovered from his injuries.

According to court records, the .243-caliber rifle fired while Bacher was working on it at the store.


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