Local police were instructed to relay a judge’s concerns that the Colorado Bureau of Investigations needed to turn over evidence related to a murder case as soon as possible.
“There is clearly a need to get this case moving,” Chief District Court Judge Doug Walker told a police detective. “I’ve reluctantly agreed to today’s continuance, but I’m not likely to grant another one.”
A defense motion to continue arraignment proceedings for suspect Jeroen Begay, 19, of Cortez, was granted by Walker on Thursday, March 6. Public defender Kenneth Pace said the defense team wanted the opportunity to review evidence in the case in order to advise their client on how to proceed.
“We’re waiting for reports from CBI,” Pace said.
District Attorney Will Furse didn’t object to the continuance, but he added the victim’s family had also expressed strong desires for the case to move forward.
According to court officials, more than 45 items collected as evidence in the case were sent to state investigators for evaluation, including the firearm used in the alleged homicide.
“We anticipate the CBI reports will be delivered to us by mid-April,” Cortez Police Detective Gay Stevens told Walker.
An email was sent to the CBI for comment on the backlog.
A Montezuma County grand jury indicted Begay on first-degree murder charges after a Sept. 19 shooting incident that killed one person and injured another. Court records allege that a masked Begay gunned down Natalie Hatch, 21, inside the doorway of her Cedar Terrace apartment residence with a 12-gauge shotgun on the night in question.
Begay also faces two counts of attempted first-degree murder. Police say that after shooting Hatch, Begay entered the residence and fired four rounds. An 18-year-old male victim also suffered a leg wound but survived the shooting.
In custody without bond, a shackled Begay attended Thursday’s 20-minute proceedings. He squinted when Furse indicated a plea deal had yet to be offered.
Pace said the defense was open to a plea deal, pending a proper review of the outstanding evidence.
Begay’s arraignment was rescheduled for 3 p.m. on April 22.
After the proceedings, an unknown disturbance involving a member of the victim’s family occurred immediately outside of the Montezuma County Courthouse. Four Cortez Police Department vehicles with lights flashing were parked in the center lane on Main Street, and eight uniformed officers on scene. All involved parties dispersed without incident, and no charges were filed.