DA won’t seek death for suspect in wife’s murder
Ninth Judicial District Attorney Martin Beeson said he has assured British authorities that he won’t seek the death penalty for a Grand Junction hotel owner turned poker star who is accused of killing his wife in 1997.
Beeson on Monday said he made his intentions clear in communications last fall with counterparts in England, where 46-year-old Marcus Bebb-Jones is fighting his return to Colorado to face a first-degree murder charge in the slaying of his wife, Sabrina.
“They had additional questions on, even if I’m not seeking death, if a judge can sentence him to death anyway if he’s convicted,” Beeson said. “I told them Colorado law wouldn’t allow that.”
Under a treaty with the United States, British authorities won’t extradite defendants to the United States unless the death penalty is off the table.
“Our decision wasn’t based on the facts case or the evidence, but the requirements of the treaty alone,” Beeson said.
If convicted, Bebb-Jones faces life in prison without the possibility of parole.
Bebb-Jones was arrested in November at his home in Kidderminster, where he’s been held without bond leading up to an extradition hearing scheduled for Thursday. Beeson said he’s not optimistic that Bebb-Jones will appear in a Colorado court anytime soon.
“Even if there’s a decision by the judge there, (Bebb-Jones) does have a right of appeal to a higher court,” Beeson said.
Bebb-Jones, and his wife, were both owners of Hotel Melrose on Colorado Avenue at the time she was reported missing in September 1997.
Her skull was discovered on Douglas Pass by a rancher in 2004.
An arrest affidavit alleges that Sabrina Jones’ blood was found in a minivan her husband had been driving in September 1997, while detectives learned that he had charged nearly $6,000 to her credit cards in Las Vegas.
Bebb-Jones returned to his native England in 1998 where he became a prolific poker player.
An attorney representing Bebb-Jones in November told a United Kingdom judge that Bebb-Jones has either “spent or lost” his poker earnings, and was living off state assistance.
The Kidderminster Shuttle newspaper reported that Bebb-Jones had been in China searching for a job in the weeks leading up to his arrest in England. China has no extradition treaty with the United States.