Stagner found insane, not guilty for 2001 killing of four in Rifle |

Stagner found insane, not guilty for 2001 killing of four in Rifle

Greg Masse
Post Independent Staff

As a result of one of Colorado’s most intriguing and long-awaited trials of 2002, killer Steven Michael Stagner was found not guilty by reason of insanity for killing four people and injuring three others in Rifle on July 3, 2001.

Stagner was committed by Ninth District Judge T. Peter Craven to the Colorado Department of Human Services for a one-day to life sentence in the state mental hospital.

On Oct. 8, Craven found that Stagner committed the act behind 18 of the 19 felony charges against him, including murder and attempted murder. But Craven ruled that Stagner’s mental state at the time of the shootings gave the court no choice but to find him innocent by reason of insanity.

Dr. Park Dietz, the forensic psychiatrist who found such notorious killers as Unabomber Ted Kaczynski, David “Son of Sam” Berkowitz, Andrea Yates, the Texas woman who drowned her five children, John Hinckley Jr. and killer-cannibal Jeffrey Dahmer to be sane, testified that after an evaluation, he had no choice but to agree with other psychiatrists that Stagner was insane at the time of the shootings.

Stagner, 43, killed four Mexican nationals – Juan Hernandez-Carrillo, brothers Melquiades and Juan Carlos Medrano-Velazquez, and Angelica Toscano-Salgado.

He also shot and seriously wounded three other men.

All seven people were shot the night of July 3, 2001, in the Rifle City Market parking lot and in the courtyard of the nearby Bookcliff Mobile Home Park.

At the two-day trial to the court, a proceeding designed to show evidence that the defendant is insane, 9th District Attorney Mac Myers shared an abundance of evidence he hoped would show that Stagner won’t be cured and that will make it extremely difficult for Stagner to ever be released from the mental hospital.

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