Jeremiah Paul Damron, a Montezuma County man suspected of murdering his mother last year, was in court for a status conference on Tuesday awaiting a sanity evaluation from the Colorado Mental Health Institute at Pueblo, but the report has not yet come.
Forty-nine days ago, on Oct. 2, 22nd Judicial District Judge Todd Plewe ordered CMHIP to complete a sanity evaluation. CMHIP has not yet complied. On Tuesday, Plewe issued another order, requesting a sanity evaluation within two weeks. If CMHIP does not comply, he said he could go as far as to take legal action against the mental health institute.
“I will certainly do my part to make them comply,” Plewe said.
Damron’s defense attorney, John Moran, said Damron has been waiting on CMHIP while in custody at the Montezuma County Detention Center. He told Plewe that nothing is happening in the case. To his eyes, he said, the missed deadlines signal that the Colorado Department of Human Services is not doing its job.
Damron, 37, has appeared in court at least 12 times since his arrest on July 20, 2017, mostly regarding his mental competence. Damron was found competent to stand trial in March, but his defense requested a second evaluation, which the court granted. The court heard then from three expert witnesses, two who had evaluated Damron this year and found him competent to proceed to trial, and one who had found him incompetent in 2017.
On Aug. 1, 2018, the court again found Damron competent to proceed. A month later, on Oct. 2, Damron pleaded guilty by reason of insanity. At that point, Plewe ordered CMHIP to conduct the sanity evaluation.
Damron is charged with one count of first-degree murder, two counts of felony menacing, one count of third-degree assault, one count of child abuse and one count of obstructing government operations. The first-degree murder charge carries a minimum sentence of life in prison. Prosecutors have stated they will not seek the death penalty.
On July 20, 2017, Montezuma County Sheriff Steve Nowlin and two Cortez Police Officers arrested Damron after finding his mother’s body beaten and burned in his backyard of his mobile home on the 7000 block of County Road 21.75, near County Road G.
During a hearing in September, the court made a record that it does not want another continuance. Plewe on Tuesday said he doesn’t want to delay the case any longer. He said he wants this resolved for the court, the victim’s family and the community.