Plea hearings for Jessica Sutch, a Cortez house sitter facing theft-related charges in three cases, have been delayed pending the outcome of a fourth case.
Sutch was scheduled to enter a plea in three felony identity-theft cases on Tuesday, but Montezuma County District Court Judge Todd Plewe delayed the hearings until Nov. 21 at the request of the prosecution and defense attorneys. Both said they needed more time to prepare in light of the new accusations. A charge of forgery is scheduled to be filed against Sutch on Wednesday.
Sutch was arrested Aug. 30 on a warrant for fraud, after a Montezuma County resident who had employed her as a house sitter in July claimed that her credit card had been used to make more than $2,000 in unauthorized purchases while the house was in Sutch’s care. Montezuma County Sheriff’s deputies responded to two other reports of theft by people who had employed Sutch throughout the year, but in both cases the alleged victims did not press charges at first. On Oct. 25, while three felony cases were in progress against her, Sutch was arrested again on suspicion of forgery.
Defense attorney John Moran said Sutch has cooperated with legal authorities throughout the case and is undergoing mental health treatment. He suggested extreme stress and health problems in her family might have contributed to her recent behavior.
“She has never been in trouble before, ever,” he said. “With the right supervision, I’m confident that she can get back on track to where she was before.”
He and the prosecuting attorney said they would need time to adjust their cases to reflect the new charge against Sutch. Plewe said he would ask Judge JenniLynn Lawrence, who is handling the forgery case, to set that case for a plea hearing on the same day. He said he didn’t want to drag out the case more than necessary.
“Hopefully we can get this case wrapped up for the good of the community and the defendant,” he said.
Sutch’s plea hearings are now scheduled for 11 a.m., Nov. 21 at Montezuma County Combined Courts.