GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado - Gregory Blurton, the man accused of storming into a Rifle assisted living center with a pistol May 17 and threatening residents and staff, has now been accused of running a methamphetamine lab in a house where he lived with his two brothers.
At a preliminary hearing on Thursday, District Judge Thomas Ossola ruled that there was sufficient evidence to bind Blurton over for a trial on the new charges, scheduled for Feb. 4, 2013.
While awaiting trial on the meth charges, Blurton, 55, has pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity to multiple counts in the original case. Charges in that case include burglary, menacing and weapons offenses.
According to court documents covering the newest charges against Blurton, police got an anonymous phone tip in April, saying that Blurton was operating a meth lab at the home.
Rifle police officers went to the house on May 31, for a "knock and talk" with David Blurton, who confirmed that his brother Gregory Blurton had been running a meth lab in the home.
Gregory Blurton was in jail at the time, on charges stemming from the nursing home incident.
Police later returned with a warrant to search the home and a van parked in the yard.
The search, according to Rifle Police Detective Justin Wareham, turned up chemicals believed to be used in the making of methamphetamines as well as in the cultivation of marijuana.
Defense attorney Peter Rachesky argued that police did not have probable cause to search the house based only on an anonymous telephone tip. Rachesky argued that hearsay cannot be the "sole source of critical elements" in a criminal case.
"A preliminary hearing is a device for weeding out weak cases," Rachesky told the judge. "This is one of those rare cases."
Judge Ossola admitted some discomfort with the idea of relying on a completely anonymous tip, noting, "We have nothing which gives us any kind of verification of his [the tipster's] credibility."
But, the judge noted, David Blurton "gave them all sorts of information" which lead to the uncovering of evidence.
Gregory Blurton is accused of committing 38 crimes during the May 17 incident, in which police say he burst into the Crossroads Assisted Living facility at 375 W. 24th St. in Rifle, waving a pistol and frightening residents and staff.
During the incident, which began at about 2:30 p.m., Blurton allegedly barricaded himself into a resident's room and held Rifle police officers at bay with a 9 mm semiautomatic handgun.
Police reported that Blurton opened the door to the room more than once and held the pistol to his own head before closing the door.
Of the 38 charges, 15 are felonies, 19 are misdemeanors, and four are "sentence enhancers" alleging that Blurton is a habitual criminal.
Blurton's attorney, Charles "Chip" McCrory, told the Post Independent that his client suffers from hepatic encephalopathy, a severe liver disease that has put him in hospitals and under hospice care in the past.
According to the PubMed Health website, the disease causes a buildup of toxins in the brain which, in turn, cause a sufferer to experience serious mental disorientation and other disorders.
McCrory said Blurton, who has been in jail since being arrested on May 17, is undergoing psychological evaluation prior to further court proceedings before Judge James Boyd.