Crooks’ attorney may ask to move trial

An attorney for a former Grand Junction Police Department officer may seek to move the officer’s domestic violence trial away from Mesa County because of pretrial attention.

Martha Kent, a private attorney who represents former officer Courtney Crooks, wrote in a court filing earlier this month that “saturated” media coverage of the former officer’s arrest in August has been exacerbated by the fact that two more Grand Valley police officers were arrested after Crooks.

“Each time there has been coverage about the other cases, Mr. Crooks’ case is rehashed to the public to some degree,” Kent wrote in a court filing. “It is likely that prospective jurors will at least be aware of much of this information, if not have drawn conclusions based on it.”

Kent’s filing was a notice to County Court Judge Craig Henderson, reserving the right to request a change of venue in Crooks’ case at the time of jury selection.

Crooks, 24, has pleaded not guilty to a misdemeanor charge of physical harassment against his wife. A jury trial is scheduled to start Feb. 25.

Crooks was arrested Aug. 18, after an investigation by the Mesa County Sheriff’s Department.

The Sheriff’s Department also investigated sexual assault allegations against former Grand Junction police officer Glen Coyne, 35, who was arrested and fired on Oct. 1. Coyne was found dead five days later after an apparent suicide.

Palisade police officer Stephen Tonello, 26, was arrested Oct. 23 on a misdemeanor harassment charge involving an ex-girlfriend. The case was later dropped for lack of evidence, while Palisade authorities have said Tonello was disciplined after an internal investigation.  Tonello returned to work Nov. 9.


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