DA decision to pursue Lincoln case makes sense to prosecute | PostIndependent.com

DA decision to pursue Lincoln case makes sense to prosecute

Samuel Lincoln already has been sentenced to 242 years in prison for Mesa County criminal charges, which raises a valid question.

Why should prosecutors bother trying to take him to trial on charges in Garfield County?

Given the cost of a trial and the toll it could take on a jury, witnesses and the court system, we wondered about that very thing, and put the question to the 9th Judicial District Attorney’s Office. Deputy DA Amy Fitch, who is prosecuting Lincoln on his local attempted murder charges, provided some satisfactory answers.

First and foremost, just because Lincoln essentially has been given a life sentence, that’s no guarantee he’ll actually be required to serve all those years. While he still would face 127 years in prison even if he becomes eligible for parole, the concern for local prosecutors is that he might successfully appeal one or more of the three Mesa

County cases. They owe it to the public to ensure Lincoln never walks free without having had to answer to an attempted murder charge.

They also owe it to the victim in that case to pursue a resolution. Federico Garcia-Hernandez was stabbed Nov. 30, 2004, in West Glenwood. It was a serious enough crime that if Lincoln is convicted of it, and of related charges that include aggravated robbery, first-degree assault and first-degree burglary, he could face another 100 years in prison. In the interest of justice, Garcia-Hernandez deserves to have the charges against Lincoln prosecuted.

Lincoln already has been found guilty in connection with equally heinous actions, including trying to kill a friend in the desert near Grand Junction, firing at Mesa County sheriff’s deputies, and robbery.

Fitch doesn’t think Lincoln is willing to enter a plea bargain in the Garfield County case, a plea that would spare the need for a trial. He probably has little reason to try to avoid a trial. It isn’t as if prosecutors can offer a deal that might reduce his prison time, when he’s already likely to spend his life in lock-up. Lincoln also is aware that in 2006, a jury found Lawrence Doty not guilty of charges in the same Glenwood Springs case, after a key witness made statements that reportedly were inconsistent and didn’t appear credible enough to the jury.

Since prosecutors didn’t drop charges against Lincoln, we trust and hope that they still believe there is enough evidence to take him to trial. The decision to prosecute Lincoln now should be based on the evidence and the belief they can get a conviction. If the case isn’t strong, then it would not make sense to take up time and money to go after Lincoln.

If prosecutors have a strong case, they owe it to the cause of justice to push forward with their prosecution of Lincoln, and to do their part to help assure a very dangerous man remains where he belongs, behind bars.

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