Extradition expected in Bebb-Jones murder case
Post Independent Staff
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
Ninth Judicial District Attorney Martin Beeson is confident that accused murder suspect Marcus Bebb-Jones will be extradited to Garfield County for trial. However, his day in court may still be up to a year away.
A London district court judge approved the extradition of Bebb-Jones to the United States at a hearing on Monday, April 12. However, the actual extradition order will have to come from the Home Secretary. Beeson was pleased by the decision.
“The magistrate’s decision is very encouraging, although it may simply be the end of the first phase of this process,” Beeson wrote in an e-mail statement to the Post Independent on Friday.
If Bebb-Jones appeals the decision, the case would have to go to a higher court for ruling before going to the Home Secretary for approval. Bebb-Jones could also appeal the Home Secretary’s decision as well, which could further delay the process between nine and 12 months, according to Beeson.
“Although somewhat disheartening, the process is moving forward and we are making significant progress,” Beeson said.
Beeson and Deputy DA Jeff Cheney traveled to London last week to be present at the extradition hearing.
Bebb-Jones, 46, of Kidderminster, Worcestershire, is accused of murdering his American wife Sabrina in 1997 and dumping her body in Western Garfield County, northwest of Grand Junction. Bebb-Jones and his wife owned the Hotel Melrose in Grand Junction. Sabrina was reported missing in September 1997.
Reports state that Bebb-Jones went on a lavish gambling trip to Las Vegas immediately after Sabrina went missing. He ultimately sold the hotel and moved back to England, with the couple’s then 4-year-old son, to live with his mother.
Bebb-Jones was arrested in November 2009 in England on charges of first-degree murder. Sabrina’s remains were discovered by a rancher near Douglas Pass in 2004. If the extradition goes through, Bebb-Jones faces a trial in Garfield County District Court. If convicted of first-degree murder he faces life in prison without the possibility of parole.
Beeson will prosecute the case and is also heading up the extradition fight against Bebb-Jones. He traveled to London, along with Cheney and two officers from the Garfield County Sheriff’s Office, specifically for the extradition hearing. Being the prosecutor on the case, it was important to be present for the extradition hearing, Beeson said.
“I made the determination that it would be more cost effective for Mr. Cheney and I to come here and meet with and accomplish initial witness preparation, than it would to try to bring them individually to Colorado,” Beeson said. “Given the progress that we’ve made in that regard, I believe it was a good decision.”
Beeson said also that he had spoken with the Crown Prosecutor, who had expressed appreciation for his input regarding Colorado law as it relates to this case. Beeson explained other purposes for the trip was to interview four potential witnesses regarding testimony in the case. Two of the witnesses Beeson referred to as “critical and indispensable to the prosecution of this case.”
Hopes of a fifth witness interview were unsuccessful, Beeson said.
Garfield County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Phil Strouse said that Commander Bill Middleton and Detective Eric Ashworth went along on the trip to also conduct interviews with witnesses, and to clarify information with their British counterparts.
According to a BBC News article, Middleton told BBC News that he and Ashworth have been working on the case since Sabrina’s skull was discovered in September 2004, and the investigation has taken them to the cities of London and Edinburgh and also to Dublin, Ireland, to interview potential witnesses.
According to 9th Judicial District Attorney’s Office administrator Bill Brunworth, Beeson and Cheney departed for England on April 10, along with Middleton and Ashworth. The group was scheduled to return to the United States today.
However, with all flights in the UK delayed for the past two days from heavy winds spreading volcanic ash from an eruption in Iceland, the group could be there slightly longer than expected. The BBC News reported Friday that flight restrictions at all of London’s airports would remain in place until at least 1 p.m. (BST) Saturday afternoon.
“My guess is that there will be delays,” said Brunworth.
Beeson said that he hopes to return by Monday at the latest.
“It is my earnest hope that this situation with the volcanic ash will dissipate quickly, so that we can return home,” he said.
Travel arrangements were made by and paid for by the Garfield County Sheriff’s Office. However, the DA’s office will reimburse the Sheriff’s Office for its respective costs and expenses, according to Beeson.
Even though the couple were residents of Mesa County and the Grand Junction Police initiated the missing person investigation when Sabrina was first reported missing, according to Garfield County Sheriff Lou Vallario, Garfield County is responsible for prosecuting the case, and the associated costs.
“The presumption is that she was murdered in Garfield County because that is where the remains were found,” Vallario said.
Vallario said that the total expense for the trip would not be known until the group returned and expenses could be tabulated.
Beeson noted that the expense is warranted.
“Not only is this a murder case, it is one in which the family of the victim has been waiting 13 years for their day in court,” Beeson said, adding, “The combined efforts of the Sheriff’s Office and the Office of the District Attorney have given them hope – a hope that they never had before.”
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