Stagner trial again delayed
The upcoming trial for murder suspect Michael Stagner, which was scheduled to begin Thursday, has been delayed again.
The hearings were set back because the report on Stagner’s second mental examination, conducted by Dr. Richard Pounds at the Colorado Mental Health Institute in Pueblo, has not yet been turned over to the court.
Stagner, 43, faces 19 charges, including first-degree murder and attempted murder. He was arrested the night of July 3, 2001, just minutes after allegedly shooting seven Mexicans, killing four of them, outside the Bookcliff RV Park in Rifle.
The motion to vacate hearing dates on July 29-31 and delay the trial was filed in the court clerk’s office July 25, but a copy was not made available to the press until Monday afternoon. A new trial date will be set Aug. 19, when motions hearings are scheduled.
The three-week delay will provide Ninth District Attorney Mac Myers some of the time he had requested last month when he asked District Judge T. Peter Craven to continue the trial until September.
Defense attorneys Greg Greer and Jamie Roth objected to that request because witnesses had already set time aside for the trial, with some postponing or even canceling vacations.
Also, the busy public defender’s office had to do some shuffling of its own to make time for the trial, which could last as long as five weeks.
But according to this latest motion, both sides agreed on the continuance.
If Pounds, like the psychiatrist before him, finds that Stagner is insane, Stagner could waive his right to a jury trial and instead go before a judge, who would determine whether he is insane.
Since Stagner’s arrest, he has been held without bond in the Garfield County Jail when he has not been in Pueblo being examined. If convicted of the murder charges, he could receive life in prison, but if found innocent by reason of insanity, he could be relegated to a mental hospital.
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Since Colorado’s not yet in the clear of the global pandemic, the Garfield School District Re-2 is heading into next year with a relatively frugal budget.