April trial set in Johnston first-degree murder case | PostIndependent.com

April trial set in Johnston first-degree murder case

John Gardner
Post Independent Staff

GLENWOOD SPRINGS – A Garfield County Judge set an April court date in the first-degree murder trial of Heath Johnston, Tuesday.

Ninth Judicial District Court Judge Gail Nichols denied a request from public defender Steve McCrohan for a 45-day continuance before setting a trial date. McCrohan said that more time was needed to determine if a second mental examination would be sought by the defense.

Johnston, 21, recently returned from a mental examination at the Colorado Mental Health Institute at Pueblo. Johnston was ordered by the court to undergo the evaluation in October, despite arguments by the defense that Johnston’s participation in the examination was a violation of his right to not self-incriminate.

Judge Nichols set the case for a 14-day jury trial to begin on April 12.

McCrohan must file a motion with the court by Jan. 22 if they decide to seek the second examination.

Johnston is charged for allegedly killing his brother, Sam Johnston, 26, by shooting him in the back of the head with a shotgun on December 15, 2008.

Ninth Judicial District Attorney Martin Beeson has decided against seeking the death penalty against Johnston. If found guilty of first-degree murder, Johnston faces life in prison.

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