A judge has denied a defense motion to set aside the murder conviction in the shooting death of Cortez attorney Richard Luhman.
Serving a life sentence without the possibility of parole, Aric Miera, 40, of Mancos was convicted of first-degree murder in 2006. Luhman, who represented Miera’s wife during divorce proceedings, was shot four times in the chest.
Miera had claimed that his trial attorney, Patrick Butler, provided ineffective counsel. Miera argued that Butler failed to file more than a dozen motions, acquire adequate defense experts, raise objections at trial, investigate the case and elicit evidence, to name a few.
In an eight-page ruling issued on May 4, 6th Judicial District Court Judge Jeffrey Wilson wrote that Miera failed to show that Butler’s actions and omissions were professionally incompetent to have an adverse effect on the outcome of the trial.
“The defendant has not met his burden in this case,” Wilson wrote. “Many of the complaints listed … are not issues that can be resolved simply by reviewing the record, they require evidence which was not presented at the hearing.”
Wilson added that Butler’s trial performance wasn’t defective, but rather the evidence against Miera was extremely strong.
With a history of domestic violence, Miera reportedly rushed into his ex-wife’s lawyer’s office on West First Street, forced his way past a secretary and then killed the 62-year-old attorney with a .32-caliber pistol on March 4, 2005. Miera fled and led police on a two-hour manhunt before being arrested on County Road L.
Luhman started his law career in Chicago, and then moved to Telluride in 1975. He relocated his practice to Aspen in 1986 and then to Cortez in 1988. He was an active Rotarian and served on a number of community boards. Loved ones described Luhman as a great, passionate friend, golfer, elk hunter and gardener.
Miera previously had appeals rejected by the Colorado Court of Appeals and Supreme Court in 2010.
According to a Jan. 26, 2010, post on PrisonTalk.com, Miera reported that his days were long behind bars, spending 23 hours per day in lock down. He reportedly passes the time by drawing and exercising.