Rifle murder trial canceled after plea deal reached | PostIndependent.com
YOUR AD HERE »

Rifle murder trial canceled after plea deal reached

John Colson
Post Independent Staff
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado

GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado – The first-degree murder trial of former Rifle resident Heath Johnston, scheduled for next week, has been canceled, according to 9th Judicial District Court officials.

The trial reportedly was called off after the two sides in the case reached an undisclosed plea bargain.

News about the ending of the case, which has been in the courts for a year and nine months, quickly made its way through the Garfield County Courthouse on Thursday.



Security officers at the entrance to the courthouse had predicted being swamped by prospective jurors on Sept. 20, the day the trial was scheduled to begin. It was tentatively scheduled to last up to three full weeks.

Johnston, 21, apparently has pleaded guilty to killing his brother, Sam Johnston, by shooting him in the back of the head with a shotgun in December 2008, while Sam sat on a couch at his Rifle residence.



If convicted of first-degree murder, Johnston was facing possible sentences of life in prison or the death penalty.

Although officials in the court clerks’ office confirmed that the trial had been called off, calls to the attorneys in the case were not returned Thursday afternoon, and no further details about the plea bargain were available.

This is not the first time a plea bargain had been offered to Johnston.

In June 2009, according to news accounts, the attorneys in the case informed 9th Judicial District Judge Gail Nichols that a deal was in the works.

But the deal fell through, and in August 2009 Johnston entered a plea of “not guilty” to the charge.

jcolson@postindependent.com


Support Local Journalism

Support Local Journalism

Readers around Glenwood Springs and Garfield County make the Post Independent’s work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.

Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.

Each donation will be used exclusively for the development and creation of increased news coverage.

For tax deductible donations, click here.
 

Start a dialogue, stay on topic and be civil.
If you don't follow the rules, your comment may be deleted.

User Legend: iconModerator iconTrusted User


News

Report: Estimates of future Upper Colorado River Basin water use confound previous planning

A report released this month by the Center for Colorado River Studies says that in order to sustainably manage the river in the face of climate change, officials need alternative management paradigms and a different way of thinking compared with the status quo. Estimates about how much water the Upper Colorado River Basin states will use in the future are a problem that needs rethinking, according to the white paper.



See more