GREELEY — Attorneys for Kevin Dean Eastman, the man accused of killing two Greeley residents, have filed another motion asking the judge to — once again — continue the trial in a case that has spanned nearly two years since Eastman was arrested for the brutal murders in what prosecutors have said appears to have been a love-triangle.
Public defenders Samantha Deveraux and Ashley Morriss argued to District Court Judge Marcelo Kopcow that they have not had time to prepare because several pieces of evidence and/or witness information was not turned over by the district attorney’s office in a timely manner.
The trial is set to begin on Jan. 10, 2022 and is expected to take nearly three weeks before being given to a jury for deliberation. Attorneys asked for 14 actual trial days to get through what is expected to be thousands of pages of evidence, pictures and videos as well as testimony.
Kopcow said he just received the defense motion to continue yesterday and had not had time to review it as he is presiding over another murder trial at the same time. Therefore, Kopcow said he would issue a written ruling next week, but for now all parties should prepare as though the trial will move forward as planned.
“I have no intention to continue this trial without good cause,” Kopcow said. “All parties need to prepare like this case is going to trial on Jan 10.”
Eastman was formally charged on April 1, 2021 in the deaths of Scott Sessions and Heather Frank in February 2020. Eastman was the estranged boyfriend of Frank.
During a preliminary hearing in October 2020, prosecutors called the murder of Sessions an “ambush,” “a lie-in-wait” style murder and the subsequent murder of Frank as the need for Eastman to silence the only witness to Sessions’ murder.
Deveraux and Morriss have asked for one delay after another since Eastman was arrested on 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. Eastman has been held in the Weld County jail since his arrest.
Eastman, who will turn 50 four days into his trial, initially had a deadline for a speedy trial ending on Oct. 1, 2021. It was extended to March 31, 2022 to accommodate delays caused by maternity leaves for both public defender, two competency hearings, a backlog of evidence issues and a host of other reasons. Several other requests for additional hearings and other delays have already been turned down by Kopcow. Another delay could extend beyond the March 31 deadline.
During what was supposed to be a routine procedure setting jury protocols, Deveraux argued prosecutors were keeping addresses of witnesses, evidence and last-minute changes in witnesses, among other things, from them, adding the cost for that should come from the district attorney’s office since they believe the delays are prosecutors’ fault.
Steve Wrenn, chief deputy district attorney, said Deveraux and Morriss did not understand some of the evidence the prosecution wishes to present, were asking for address updates for witnesses not being called by the prosecution and argued they have not missed any deadlines.
Kopcow also questioned why the defense didn’t make other arrangements to examine certain evidence that had not been returned from the Colorado Bureau of Investigation.
“So is there a reason why you can’t visit the CBI?” Kopcow asked, to which Deveraux said she didn’t know she could.
“I think it’s important for both sides to understand, when we get delayed information, or we get 170 pages of discovery dropped on us, or we get these delayed reports … those cause ripple effects,” Deveraux said. “They cause us to stop the process we are doing to digest the information, find an expert, or do whatever we have to do for an investigation and all those reasons prevent us from being ready.”
When questioned by Kopcow if the information was late or if it met the deadline, Deveraux admitted it met the deadline but that she “believed they should have been done earlier.”
“They (did), and I’m not going to deny that,” Deveraux said. “But what I am saying is why on earth would we not get the reports a year and a half ago? When we get these later reports dumped on us, one can only assume why.”
Kopcow appeared agitated at times over the request, repeating many times that while he would look over the new filing in detail, he was not ready to continue this case again.
“I’m just trying to let the court know that there are many reasons why we need a continuance,” Deveraux said, interrupting the judge as he said, yet again, he was not prepared to rule on continuing the case from the bench.
Deveraux wanted to make an oral argument to the court for additional reasons to continue the case, reasons that she had not previously filed a motion on.
“And I cannot speculate as to what those are, you have not filed anything,” Kopcow said. “I am only going to rule on motions that are before me. I am not going to just knee jerk reaction rule on the motion, one I haven’t finished reading yet.”
Unless Kopcow finds a compelling reason to delay the trial again, jury selection is set to begin which on Jan. 10. The court is expected to call 300 prospective jurors to fill 12 seats and three alternates.
Both parties agreed on 45 minutes of opening testimony and two hours of closing remarks.
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