Gregory Blurton of Rifle nixes plea deal, tries to fire lawyer
Post Independent Staff
GLENWOOD SPRINGS — Gregory Blurton, a Rifle man accused of operating a meth lab at a home he shared with his brother, on Thursday tried to fire his lawyer and demanded that he be allowed to go to trial rather than accept a plea bargain.
“I’ve got less than six months to live,” shouted Blurton, 55, during the hearing.
“I don’t want a plea bargain. I didn’t commit this crime. I want to go to trial, and I can’t seem to get that into his head,” he continued, pointing at his lawyer, Pete Rachesky.
Blurton has been hospitalized numerous times while in jail awaiting trial, according to his attorneys, and was brought into court in a wheelchair on Thursday. He reportedly has been diagnosed with hepatic encephalopathy, a severe disease of the liver that reportedly has put Blurton under hospice care in the past.
District Judge Daniel Petre, however, declined to take attorney Peter Rachesky off the case as Blurton demanded, but agreed to appoint “additional counsel” to handle the case with Rachesky.
Blurton faces two cases in the 9th Judicial District courts, one over the meth lab allegations.
He also is accused of storming in to a Rifle assisted living facility on May 17, 2012, with a pistol in his hand, threatening staff and residents and creating an armed standoff with police.
It turned out later that the pistol Blurton allegedly carried that day, a 9 mm semi-automatic, was not loaded during the standoff, though a loaded ammunition magazine from that type of gun was found later in the street outside the facility. Blurton has pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity in that case.
The meth lab charges came from an anonymous tip that on May 31, 2012, sent police to the house Blurton shared with his brother. At the time, Gregory Blurton was in jail, having been arrested on May 17 after police allegedly talked him into surrendering.
At a review hearing on both cases before Petre on Thursday, Blurton sat in a wheelchair in a corner of the courtroom and occasionally had whispered conversations with his attorney in the nursing home case, Charles “Chip” McCrory.
McCrory told the judge that Blurton recently underwent a mental health evaluation at the Colorado Mental Health Institute at Pueblo, but that the results of that examination had not yet been made available to either McCrory or his defendant.
McCrory said that at this point in the case, he is inclined to take it to trial, and filed a motion to set a trial date. But he also asked Petre to put the motion on hold until after he can review mental-health evaluation report, which may affect whether a trial will be held at all.
McCrory, Rachesky and Deputy DA Steve Mallory at one point in the hearing agreed that the two cases, which generally have been jointly discussed in hearings, ought to be severed and each case allowed to proceed on its own merits.
But, Rachesky interjected, “Mr. Blurton and I apparently have an irreconcilable difference” about the conduct of the meth case, referring to Blurton’s rejection of any plea bargain offered by the prosecution.
“This is his life, and this is his case,” said Rachesky, adding that Blurton may need an attorney that is “more amenable to the way he wants it done.”
Rachesky also denied trying to conduct Blurton’s defense against the client’s wishes.
“You will get a new lawyer,” Judge Petre told Blurton at the end of the hearing. The two cases will remain tied together for now, Petre ruled.
The case is scheduled to resume on June 13.
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