Rifle standoff suspect says jail medical care inadequate
Post Independent Staff
GLENWOOD SPRINGS — Garfield County Jail inmate Gregory Blurton, who in June shouted during court that he had “less than six months to live,” is now trying to get a Ninth Judicial District judge to either force the jail to give him better medical care or lower Blurton’s bond so he can get out of jail and get his own medical care.
Blurton reportedly suffers from hepatic encephalopathy, a severe liver disease that has put him in hospitals and under hospice care in the past.
According to the PubMed Health website, the disease causes a buildup of toxins in the brain which, in turn, cause a sufferer to experience serious mental disorientation and other disorders.
Blurton, 56, is defending himself in two separate court cases and has been in jail for 483 days since being arrested on May 17, 2012, at the Crossroads nursing home facility in Rifle.
In one case, he is accused of bursting into the nursing home waving a pistol, frightening the residents and causing a standoff with police that lasted several hours. Charges in that case, which is being handled by private defense attorney Charles “Chip” McCrory, include burglary, menacing and weapons offenses.
In the other case, being handled by another private attorney, Beth Krulewitch of Aspen, Blurton is accused of running a meth lab in a Rifle house he shared with his brother, David Blurton.
Both attorneys have been appointed by the judge as Alternate Defense Counsel, with legal costs covered by the state, after conflicts arose between Blurton and attorneys who worked on the cases at earlier points in the proceedings.
In a hearing on Thursday, attorneys for the defense and the prosecution told District Judge Daniel Petre that they have been unable to obtain medical records from the jail, in order to prepare for a hearing on the motion about Blurton’s medical care there.
“For whatever reason, they’ve decided it’s in their best interest not to comment on the case prior to hearings,” McCrory told the judge.
Krulewitch, appearing at the hearing by telephone from Aspen, said she too had run into the same problem, and that the jail health care contractors have cited the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) as justification for their refusal to provide records.
But Assistant County Attorney Katharine Johnson, who is representing the jail in the matter, told the judge, “I don’t believe there’s a HIPAA issue there,” noting that the judge had directed that the medical information be provided and that information is now in “the control and custody of the sheriff.”
The judge and the attorneys agreed that subpoenas may ultimately be needed to compel testimony by the medical contractors for the jail, but Petre said he would prefer to see if there is another solution to the roadblock first.
He set an all-day hearing on the motion for Oct. 15, hoping that a summons to court would serve to get the medical providers to testify on the issues involved.
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