Man accused of murdering Rifle woman requests access to forensic testing
With forensics underway, the defense representing Jorge Solis — the man accused of murdering 22-year-old Rifle woman Ana Victoria Rascon in Gunnison County — is asking that “confidential experts to be present at testing or to in certain circumstances perform their own testing.”
“We will be asking that the experts be present for testing or run their own testing based on the right to effective assistance of counsel,” public defender Kori Zapletal said.
Solis, 24, was arrested March 17 in Mesa County after he was suspected of murdering and leaving Rascon’s body in a home in southwest Gunnison County on March 6. According to court documents, Solis had “knowingly attempted to set fire to, burn, or caused to burn a building or occupied structure.
The motion was one of three requests presented to Gunnison County District Court Judge J. Steven Patrick during a Wednesday court appearance over a video communications system.
In response to the defense’s first motion, Deputy District Attorney Joshua Dougherty said the request to test all scientific evidence prior to law enforcement has “no basis in law or case law.”
The second motion requested by the defense is that law enforcement monitors any conversations with informants or non-state actors.
“We’re not suggesting, your honor, that law enforcement should be required to monitor conversations or regulate conversations between non-state actors,” Zapletal said. “However, people, particularly inmates, and non-state informants, have become agents of law enforcement if they are acting at law enforcement’s direction.”
In addition, the motion also requests restrictions be made on media. This will help prevent misinformation or contamination of the jury, said Zapletal.
Chief Deputy District Attorney Jessica Waggoner argued, however, that informants are so for not a concern.
“As far as informants, no one’s in the cells anyways,” she said. “And further, the people do agree if they do become an agent of the people, they would be in violation of three other motions filed by the defendant.”
The third motion made by Zapletal on behalf of Solis is that the defense be provided prior notice of any procedures related to testing. This motion is aimed to help protect Solis’ Fifth Amendment and Sixth Amendment rights, which include the freedom to not speak on behalf of a crime and the right to certain information in a case.
“These procedures involve some sort of conversation,” she said. “Whether it’s intended or not, there’s often an explanation of what’s taking place — a request to the person to do certain things.”
According to Waggoner, however, these rights have already been granted in the case, therefore the motion is “a moot point.”
Zapletal said so far the defense has received “discovery” — information possessed by a prosecutor — in the case and waives the right to challenge future searches.
Based on that, the prosecution said they’ll go through another forensic testing procedure.
Patrick did not grant or deny any motions, but set Solis’ next court date at 3 p.m. April 29.
Reporter Ray K. Erku can be reached at 612-423-5273 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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