COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (The Gazette) - Less than two weeks before disgraced ex-El Paso County Sheriff Terry Maketa is set to go to trial, prosecutors have issued a distress call - telling a judge in a request for a delay it will be "impossible" for them to be prepared.
The eleventh-hour disclosure comes at a perilous time for the prosecution.
Maketa, who pleaded not guilty in December to nine counts alleging corruption in office, has a constitutional right to a trial by a June 17 deadline. Prosecutors have asked a judge to postpone Maketa's May 31 trial date, and a hearing is set for 10 a.m. Friday.
If a judge rules against a postponement, prosecutors must proceed to trial, prepared or not, or risk having the case dismissed.
"This is a sign of trouble for the prosecution, no doubt about it," said Richard Tegtmeier, a veteran Colorado Springs defense attorney with no ties to the case.
A blunder on such a high-profile case - alleging that one-time Republican powerhouse Maketa resorted to extortion, kidnapping and other crimes in flexing his muscle - could have political consequences for 18th Judicial District George Brauchler, who is mounting a run for governor.
Vikki Migoya, an 18th Judicial District spokeswoman, declined to comment because legal filings discussing the issue were restricted to attorneys in the case by a judge's order.
The request for a delay was filed May 16 by the 18th Judicial District Attorney's Office, a day after the sudden resignation of Grant Fevurly, the junior member on the team of two prosecutors assigned to the case. The 18th Judicial District is handling Maketa's prosecution at the request of El Paso County District Attorney Dan May, who wanted to avoid the appearance of impropriety because of his long professional association with Maketa.