Ryan declared ‘competent’ to stand trial
Post Independent Staff
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado – Shawnee Ryan, a local interior designer accused of defrauding about 40 clients, on Thursday was declared competent to stand trial.
In addition, Ninth Judicial District Judge Denise Lynch made it clear that she would not stand for any more delays in the case, which already has dragged on for nearly two years.
Some of Ryan’s alleged victims were in the courtroom Thursday to watch the proceedings, and seemed disappointed that nothing more happened.
“See you next week,” muttered one man with a rueful grin as he stepped toward the courtroom door.
Ryan was ordered by Ninth Judicial District Judge Denise Lynch to appear in court again at 9 a.m. on Monday.
Ryan, 54, was arrested in May 2010 after a year-long investigation by authorities, and charged with defrauding numerous clients for thousands of dollars worth of undelivered goods.
Ryan was rearrested in September 2010 on charges of check fraud and violating conditions of her bond in the previous charge.
At the court hearing on Thursday, public defender Jim Conway told the judge that two separate competency evaluations found Ryan to be competent to stand trial.
“Miss Ryan may have some mental health issues,” acknowledged Judge Lynch, “but they do not rise to the level of legal incompetency.” She accepted the findings.
Conway then turned to his office’s difficulties with Ryan, which have included letters sent to the judge seeking the court’s help in firing the public defender’s office and finding her another attorney.
The judge rebuffed those efforts in a ruling, and directed Ryan to only file papers in the case through her attorneys and to refrain from attempts to contact the judge directly.
“There’s a situation that exists where it’s going to be very difficult for our office to represent her,” Conway told the judge, promising to inform the court by Monday if his office is forced to withdraw from the case.
Prosecutor Andrea Bryan objected to further continuances, noting that the case already is nearly two years old.
Bryan pointed out that Ryan’s failed attempt to have a special prosecutor assigned to the case last year ate up four months of the court’s time, and that conducting two different competency evaluations took another five months.
“This case has gone on forever,” agreed the judge.
“I’m beginning to feel this is a deliberate attempt by the defendant to delay this case to the point where we’re not going to have any more victims left,” Bryan mused.
“That’s not going to happen,” responded Judge Lynch.
The judge told the attorneys and Ryan that they must reach a plea bargain to conclude the case, or it must be set for trial as quickly as possible.
According to court records, approximately 40 people have been victimized by Ryan’s allegedly deceptive business practices.
Authorities say she ran design businesses in Glenwood Springs and Basalt under several different names, starting as early as 2007, including Duir Design, Glenwood Design Center and Interiors By You.
Ryan is accused of providing customers with cheaper products than had been promised, and some clients reported they never received products at all, according to court documents.
In some cases, investigators claimed, orders were never placed and Ryan simply pocketed the cash.
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