Judge declares mistrial on Maketa felony charges
A judge declared a mistrial on two felony charges former El Paso County Sheriff Terry Maketa was facing. The announcement came Monday afternoon.
The jury acquitted Maketa of the two other misdemeanor charges he was facing in this retrial.
Maketa is scheduled to return to court on Feb. 27, it isn't clear if there will be a second retrial.
This is a developing story and as more information becomes available this article will be updated.
Closing arguments concluded Thursday in Maketa's trial and the case was handed over to the jury late in the morning. After several uneventful hours of deliberating Thursday, deliberations took a bumpy turn starting Friday with a juror's absence due to a sick child, and then Monday when the jury revealed it was deadlocked on one of the felony extortion counts.
The judge and attorneys on Friday morning began discussing a juror who possibly had to be replaced by an alternate. The juror's son was sick and she did not have anyone else to care for him, she stated over the phone.
During discussion Friday morning, the defense asked for a mistrial, which was denied. The judge also decided there was no evidence the jurors were deliberating without the 12th juror. It was then decided that deliberations would resume with all 12 jurors Monday morning.
Monday, following a couple of jury questions, the jury revealed it was deadlocked on the count and didn't know what to do. One of Maketa's attorneys asked the judge to halt deliberations on the count, but the judge declined and ordered the jurors to continue deliberations.
The trial, which began last week,
. A different set of jurors acquitted him on three charges last summer, but because they were hung on four charges, it was decided Maketa would be tried again. In the first trial, jurors deliberated for about eight hours before it was labeled a mistrial.
In this new trial, Maketa faces two extortion-related charges and two misdemeanor charges criminal misconduct. The charges stem from alleged incidents near the end of Maketa's term in 2013; in particular, he's accused of threatening to end a more than $5 million contract with the jail's health care provider unless an employee who reportedly crossed him was fired. One extortion charge has a possible sentence of up to six years in prison.
In closings Thursday, the prosecution went over the timeline of events that led to that employee, Went Habert, being fired. They said Habert crossed Maketa because she supported current Sheriff Bill Elder in his campaign instead of the Maketa-backed former undersheriff. The prosecution also charged that Maketa was upset after Habert filed a sexual harassment complaint against a commander.
The defense fired back stating Maketa, all the way into his last days as sheriff, was just keeping the healthcare company responsible on delivering its contract. That he saw a problem and ordered his lieutenant to make things right, and that because of Habert's behavior, there were several reasons she had to go. The defense wrapped up their arguments stating Maketa should not be branded as a criminal, as prosecutors did not prove their case beyond reasonable doubt.
This story will be updated after the verdict comes in.
To read more on the Maketa case background and the previous trial, click
Charges being deliberated by jury now:
Extortion unlawful act
Conspiracy to commit extortion
First-degree criminal misconduct
Charges Maketa was acquitted on in 2017:
Tampering with a witness/victim
Conspiracy to commit tamper with a witness/victim
First-degree criminal misconduct (as to Kull)