GREELEY — The attorney for a man accused of killing two Greeley residents was granted additional time on Thursday to determine whether her client will waive his right to a preliminary hearing, which would determine if there is enough evidence to continue.
Kevin Dean Eastman, 48, appeared in Weld District Court via video from the Weld County Jail, where he is being held without bail. Complete Colorado attended the hearing via Webex Video Conferencing.
Eastman’s public defender, Ashley Morriss, who also appeared via video, asked for another six weeks to be able to fully review what was referred to as an “overwhelming” amount of evidence that the District Attorney’s office has turned over.
Eastman was originally arrested in Larimer County in connection with the death of 53-year-old Greeley musician Stanley Scott Sessions. Sessions was found dead near Old Flowers and Pingree Park roads in Bellvue, northwest of Fort Collins on Feb. 10. Sessions had not been seen since Feb. 8th when he told his father he was going to Fort Collins to see a friend.
Nearly a week after Sessions’ body was discovered, 48-year-old Greeley resident Heather Frank was found dead at a home east of Greeley, just off U.S. 34 in Kersey. It is unknown why Frank was at that location, or how long she had been dead. Sessions’ death occurred between Feb. 8-10, and Frank’s death occurred on either Feb. 15th or 16th.
Frank, who was alive between five and eight days following Sessions’ death, had a warrant for her arrest for 1st Degree murder at the time of her death. That warrant was issued in connection with the killing of Sessions. It is unknown what role, if any, Frank played in Sessions’ death.
Frank’s body was found while Weld County Sheriff deputies were assisting Larimer County Sheriff deputies execute a search warrant at the home in conjunction with the Sessions case.
Eastman was eventually charged for both killings in Weld County. He was charged with two counts of 1st Degree Murder, two counts of tampering with a deceased human body, two counts of tampering with evidence and one count of possession of a weapon by a previous offender.
Based on social media accounts, Sessions and Frank appeared to know each other; however, no one close to Sessions knew Frank or were aware of a friendship outside of social media between the two.
Morriss, originally asked for sanctions against the District Attorney’s office, alleging they were delayed in turning over evidence and delivering the evidence in a manner that was impeding her ability to review it. She argued that because much of the evidence is in digital format, it should be easy to deliver.
She also said when the files are turned over, they are so large she has trouble downloading them, taking hours and causing her computer to crash.
“We had received much additional discovery after the filing of this motion, and I do appreciate that,” Morriss said. “However, that does not change that some of these items were provided late and outside the 21-day deadline. … The lag time is what we are concerned about. It is critically impeding the defense’s investigation of the allegations in this case.”
Chief Deputy District Attorney, Steve Wrenn said his office is turning over evidence as fast as it can, but the sheer volume of it causes an upload problem.
“The assertion that digital media should be able to be instantaneously provided is incorrect,” Wrenn said. “The same situation Ms. Morriss is in, we deal with on the front-end times two.”
Wrenn said his office first has to receive it, then downloaded it and then review it to be organized, categorized and labeled. After that, they can then upload into the discovery portal.
“That takes a long time,” Wrenn said. “There are numerous commercial and law enforcement surveillance videos that take hours and hours to download. We do that over the course of nights and weekends trying to speed up the process. … It’s not as easy as it appears at the Larimer County Sheriff’s Office one day and then we should be able to discover it the next day, it just simply doesn’t work that way.”
Wrenn said that a conservative estimate of the amount of evidence his office is dealing with in this case is nearly 3,000 paper files, and more than 200 digital files. The digital files, Wrenn added, contain numerous items per file, for example, 800-plus photos in one file and 600-plus photos in another.
District Court Judge Marcelo Kopcow did not sanction Wrenn or the DA’s office, saying there was no evidence that there was any kind of bad faith or willful violation on the part of the prosecution.
Kopcow granted Morriss an additional six weeks to review all the evidence. Eastman is scheduled to be back in court at 9:30 a.m. on June 25, at which time Morriss can ask for a preliminary hearing to determine whether probable cause exists to continue to trial.