A reported LSD-fueled assault case was dropped this week after prosecutors announced a six-month backlog at the state crime lab.
Citing additional investigation was needed; District Attorney Will Furse dismissed second- and third-degree assault charges against Shawn Michael Winters, 41, of Cortez on Wednesday, Feb. 25. Furse explained he might re-file the case and possibly add new charges once evidence was returned from the Colorado Bureau of Investigations.
“CBI has informed the Cortez Police Department that it will take approximately six months to review the sexual assault examination kit used in this case,” said Furse. “Considering the defendant’s speedy trial rights may run in that amount of time, the people have no choice but to dismiss the case forthwith and wait for this evidence to be reviewed by CBI.”
Under the state’s speedy trial rule, a defendant’s trial must start within six months from entry of a not guilty plea. Furse said Winters’ arraignment hearing would have likely occurred next week.
“In the meanwhile, both the DA’s Office and the Cortez Police Department will continue to seek new and helpful evidence in an effort to bring those responsible for [the victim’s] injuries to justice,” Furse added.
Winters was arrested after police found the alleged victim severely beaten and partially naked in a front yard around 3:30 a.m. on Dec. 13, 2014.
Court records reveal the 21-year-old alleged victim was airlifted to St. Mary’s Hospital in Grand Junction for possible brain bleeding due to blunt force trauma. Police noted in reports that the alleged victim had multiple face lacerations and both eyes were black and blue.
According to police, Winters admitted to placing the alleged victim in a neck lock and punching him twice in self-defense during a fight that lasted at least a half-hour.
The assault reportedly occurred after the suspect and alleged victim, both local musicians, performed in Mancos.