Calling it a strange case, Mesa County District Attorney Pete Hautzinger today dropped charges against a man accused of shooting a 68-year-old last month.
28–year–old Michael Burton of Glenwood Springs was accused of walking up to 63–year–old Carl Pellham and shooting him at point–blank range as Pellham walked along a canal bank last August.
At the time of the shooting there were no suspects, but a woman soon called the police to say she knew who was responsible. The woman is known by many people as a surrogate mother to many in the neighborhood in which Burton lived in Grand Junction, and is also the sister of victim Carl Pellham.
As the investigation progressed witnesses in Glenwood Springs said Burton was in that city the night of the shooting, and cell phone records backed up those reports. Hautzinger says even Pellham said he had reservations about the woman's assertion that Burton shot him, calling the woman unreliable.
Hautzinger says at the time there was probable cause to arrest Burton for the shooting, but early on, questions about the witnesses reliability lead prosecutors to release Burton on his recognizance. He says the police did everything by the book before, during and after the shooting, but now they have to start over.
He adds that he could charge the witness with filing a false statement but probably will not do so.
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