Edwards murder suspects want separate trials, prosecutors want them tried together | VailDaily.com

Edwards murder suspects want separate trials, prosecutors want them tried together

Jacob Taylor White, 23, is charged with first-degree murder in the death of Catherine Kelley.
Rand Wyrick|randy@vaildaily.com |

EAGLE — The District Attorney’s Office wants one trial for both people charged with murdering a beloved Edwards woman.

Their defense attorneys want them to stand trial separately.

In a short hearing Friday afternoon, Feb. 16, District Court Judge Paul Dunkelman said he would decide that and dozens of other issues as the case moves forward.

Leigha Paige Ackerson and Jacob Taylor White appeared before Dunkelman to be advised that they each face eight felony charges for allegedly murdering Catherine Kelley.

They appeared in court separately Friday, Ackerson first and then White, both shackled with a thick leather belt at the waist, with handcuffs and ankle shackles on two-foot chains binding them with chains strung through their belts.

Dunkelman advised them that they are charged with eight felonies, topped by first-degree murder. If they’re convicted, then they’ll go to prison for the rest of their lives.

The judge then asked them if they had questions. Neither did.

They’re back in court at 9 a.m. Monday, April 16, for a two-day preliminary hearing. Attorneys with the case said it could take a year and a half for the murder case to come to trial.

Public Defender withdraws

The Public Defenders Office asked to withdraw as White’s attorney because of a potential conflict between a witness and a member of the Public Defenders’ staff. What that conflict might be was not disclosed during Friday’s hearing.

Dunkelman said the court would appoint White a different attorney, which is his Constitutional right.

Eagle County Coroner Kara Bettis determined that Kelley was strangled to death. Eagle County Sheriff’s deputies found her body in her Pilgrim Downs home Wednesday, Jan. 24.

Ackerson and White are charged with breaking into Kelley’s home, robbing it and killing her.

Law enforcement cordoned off the area and, after a systematic search, found the two and the dog they brought with them.

An Uber driver waiting at the locked Pilgrim Downs gate told the property manager he was waiting to pick up two passengers, according to the arrest affidavit.

Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 or rwyrick@vaildaily.com.

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