Judge grants fourth continuance in Rifle murder case | PostIndependent.com

Judge grants fourth continuance in Rifle murder case

John Gardnerjgardner@postindependent.com

GLENWOOD SPRINGS Heath Johnstons first-degree murder case was again continued Tuesday morning.Ninth Judicial District Court Judge Gail Nichols agreed to continue the arraignment hearing for the fourth time until June 9, but said that was the drop dead date, and the case would have to move forward at that time.Public Defender James Conway requested the continuance because he was still awaiting additional discovery in the case from the district attorneys office. He told judge Nichols that he felt that the amount of time spent on this case is not unusual.This is a very serious case, Conway said. I appreciate your concern for Mr. Johnston, but four months is definitely within the realm of reason for this type of case.Nichols continued the case for a third time in March awaiting a toxicology report on Johnston, but said at that time that by May 5, she wanted to have a plea entered and set the case for trial.Johnston, 20, was arrested on Dec. 15 in Rifle on suspicion of first-degree murder after police responded to a shooting that evening. Johnston is accused of shooting his brother, Sam Johnston, 26, in the head with a shotgun after Sam allegedly begged him to do so, according to the arrest affidavit.Prosecutors charged Johnston with first-degree murder on Jan 8. If convicted on that charge he could potentially face a life sentence, or the death penalty.He remains in the Garfield County Jail on $2 million bond.Contact John Gardner: 384-9114jgardner@postindependent.com

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