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Rifle murder trial continued

John Gardner
Post Independent Staff
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado

GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado – A district court judge granted a motion to continue the Rifle murder trial of Heath Johnston until September, on Friday.

Ninth Judicial District Court Judge Gail Nichols agreed to continue the trial until September to accommodate the defense in their efforts to best represent Johnston, despite objections from the District Attorney’s Office.

According to Deputy District Attorney Jeff Cheney, family members of Johnston had expressed concern about continuing the trial.



However, Nichols said that a trial court may continue a trial as long as the continuance is not arbitrary or unreasonable.

She said that she did not want to rush the trial and wanted to allow both prosecutors and defense attorneys adequate time to prepare and defend Johnston.



With a plethora of motions entered by both prosecutors and the defense, Nichols did not agree with prosecutors that the April 12 date allowed sufficient time.

“It is certainly serious enough to warrant the continuance,” Nichols said.

Johnston waived his right to a speedy trial, allowing Nichols to grant the continuance. Nichols set the new three-week trial to begin Sept. 20. However, Nichols said that she would be reluctant to grant another continuance in this case.



“I am not going to be as lenient the next time around,” Nichols said.

Johnston, 21, is charged in the death of his older brother, Sam Johnston. He is charged with allegedly shooting Sam in the back of the head with a shotgun in December 2008.

A lengthy motions hearing was also continued to resume on April 13. The motions hearing began on Wednesday, March 10, but the court was unable to address all the motions filed in a single day of testimony. Judge Nichols agreed to the April continuance and said that if the hearing required more time, it could be continued for another day.

jgardner@postindependent.com


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