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Cortez homicide suspect ruled incompetent to stand trial

Jeremiah Damron’s hearing delayed until January
Jeremiah Damron, center, during his arrest in Cortez on June 20.

A Cortez man suspected of murder was ruled incompetent to participate in his own defense during a competency hearing on Tuesday.

Jeremiah Damron was arrested on June 20 on suspicion of homicide after the body of his mother was found behind his mobile home in the 7000 block of County Road 21.75. His preliminary hearing, originally scheduled for Sept. 22, was delayed pending a mental health evaluation through the Colorado Department of Human Services. Based on the results of that evaluation, Montezuma County District Judge Todd Plewe ruled Damron incompetent to proceed with the case on Tuesday, and ordered him to undergo treatment at the Colorado Mental Health Institutes in Pueblo.

Plewe said the competency examination results, which were filed with the district court on Oct. 11, showed Damron had a mental disability that would prevent him from consulting with his attorney and testifying in his own defense. Both prosecuting attorney Will Furse and defense attorney John Moran said they were satisfied with the results and would not seek a second evaluation. But they also agreed on a request not to hold Damron’s preliminary hearing until he was judged mentally competent to participate by mental health professionals. Moran said that, based on the evaluation, he believed Damron could be “restored to competency” soon.

“With the right medication, Mr. Damron has always been someone who was very successful in life,” he said.

Plewe ruled Damron should be committed to the Mental Health Institutes instead of the Montezuma County Detention Center, where he has been held since his arrest.

He scheduled a status conference for 2:30 p.m. on Jan. 16, and said he would request a report on Damron’s competency from the Mental Health Institutes before then. At the request of both attorneys, Plewe canceled Damron’s preliminary hearing, originally scheduled for Nov. 6, and said he would schedule a new date during the status conference. Moran said he didn’t believe it would be appropriate to hold the hearing without the defendant, and Furse also requested the hearing be delayed.

Damron was charged on July 28 with first-degree murder, a felony which carries a minimum sentence of life in prison and a maximum sentence of death. He is currently under a protection order that prohibits all communication with several family members.

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