Aug. 1 murder trial date set for Stagner murder trial set for Aug. 1
The trial for accused killer Michael Stagner was pushed back three days from July 29 to Aug. 1 to allow for three days of motion hearings prior to the trial.
The change, outlined in a written order by District Judge T. Peter Craven, was agreed upon July 11 by prosecutors and Stagner’s defense team.
Stagner, 43, faces 19 charges, including first-degree murder and attempted murder. He was arrested the night of July 3, 2001, just minutes after allegedly shooting seven Mexicans at a Rifle grocery store and trailer park, killing four.
Craven granted the three-day continuance after Ninth District Attorney Mac Myers filed a motion requesting the trial be delayed until sometime in September.
Defense attorneys Greg Greer and Jamie Roth objected to the longer delay because witnesses had already set time aside for the trial. Some have postponed or even cancelled vacations to attend.
Also, the busy public defender’s office had done some shuffling of its own to make time for the trial, which could last as long as five weeks.
The motion hearings, originally scheduled for Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday this week, were canceled Monday because Stagner was still at the Colorado Mental Health Institute at Pueblo. He is undergoing a second evaluation of his sanity at the time of the killings.
In order for motions to be considered during the three days of hearings, they must be filed by July 25, Craven’s order said.
Today and Wednesday will now be used to review jury questionnaires returned by prospective jurors.
There is still the chance, however, that Stagner will be found insane by Dr. Richard Pounds, the psychiatrist now examining him in Pueblo.
If Stagner is again found to be insane, he could waive his right to a jury trial and instead go before a judge, who would determine whether he is insane.
Since his arrest, Stagner has been held without bond in the Garfield County Jail when he was not in Pueblo being examined.
If convicted of the murder charges, he could receive life in prison, but if found not guilty by reason of insanity, he could be relegated to a mental hospital.
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Since Colorado’s not yet in the clear of the global pandemic, the Garfield School District Re-2 is heading into next year with a relatively frugal budget.