Attorneys: State Patrol Lost Evidence

By: Jessica Zartler Email
By: Jessica Zartler Email

Only on 11 News... A two–year–old vehicular homicide case is on hold while the Colorado State Patrol tries to search for evidence that was lost.

Mesa County prosecutors and defense attorneys told a Mesa County judge Thursday morning that troopers botched some key evidence they needed for DNA testing.

Both attorneys say justice is at stake. They say how evidence is handled could mean the difference between a conviction or a defendant walking free.

26–year–old Jade Huskey is out on bond but he still doesn't know if he'll go to jail.

Huskey is facing several charges for a February 2006 crash. Investigators say Huskey and Molly Gomez were driving drunk, crashed and both were ejected. It's unclear who was driving and Gomez died. The district attorney's office filed seven charges against Huskey including two counts of vehicular homicide and the case is still pending.

"A number of pieces of evidence seem to have gone missing and nobody knows where they are. The state patrol has them and can't find them," said Gordon Gallagher, Huskey's defense attorney.

Gallagher doesn't agree much with the District Attorney's office but today in court, they agreed that State Patrol botched key evidence in the case.

"If evidence isn't stored appropriately it can jeopardize the whole case," said Gallagher.

II wasn't able to reach Chief Deputy District Attorney Tammy Eret but she told a judge in court that a vial of blood sat in a State Patrol evidence box for several months. Eret told Judge Gurley that blood has dried up and can no longer be tested. She said at least four other items are missing.

Gallagher says this isn't the first time it's happened.

"I was astounded, the same problem, the same agency, and the same type of case as I had five or six years ago."

He says a car bumper and clothing in a 2001 vehicular homicide case against Rhonda Daley went missing and was only found right before the trial. The supreme court threw out the evidence, then later overturned it, but the vehicular homicide charges were dropped in the case.

Trooper Gilbert Mares, a spokesman with the Colorado State Patrol, said he couldn't comment on this case until he does more research. He said he didn't want to speculate on how evidence could be misplaced.

"The only person who collected it is the only person who can answer that," said Trooper Mares.

He did talk briefly about evidence collection policy, "Policy and procedure don't go into depth, it just says it should be stored and documented properly."

However Trooper Mares says the policy doesn't outline specific directions on how exactly to collect evidence.

And while the State Patrol searches for the evidence in the case, Huskey will have to wait, and so will his attorney.

"The judge set the case over, hopefully the evidence will turn up," said Gallagher.

The Huskey case will be back on the docket in May.

The Colorado State Patrol tells me it will be looking into the matter.

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