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Court finds Damron not guilty by reason of insanity

Jeremiah Damron insane at time of mother’s death, DA and defender say
Jeremiah Damron was arrested July 20, 2017. He was found not guilty by reason of insanity in the death of his mother.

Jeremiah Damron has been found not guilty by reason of insanity in the 2017 death of his mother and will be committed to the Colorado Department of Human Services.

During a hearing on March 14 in 22nd Judicial District Court, state psychiatrist Dr. Thomas Gray provided testimony as an expert witness. Based on his recommendation, the prosecution and defense stipulated that Damron was mentally insane at the time of the criminal offense, according to a statement from District Attorney Will Furse.

The court committed Damron to the custody of the Colorado Mental Health Institute at Pueblo, Furse stated, where he will remain indefinitely until he is safe and fit for release. Court documents state several family members spoke during the hearing.

“Mr. Damron’s case represents a unique perspective into the consequences a community must face when mental illness is untreated or undiagnosed,” Furse stated. “Our hearts go out to those who have suffered through the effects Mr. Damron’s mental deterioration and must mourn the loss of a loved one.”

He stated he hopes the Colorado Legislature stops ignoring the needs of the mentally ill and provides “meaningful resources” toward diagnosis and care.

“With proper attention to the needs of our mentally afflicted, violence like this could be prevented,” Furse stated.

Damron, 38, was arrested on July 20, 2017, after his mother’s body was found beaten and burned in the backyard of his mobile home off County Road G in Cortez.

He was initially found competent to stand trial in August 2018, but a second sanity evaluation was ordered after he pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity in October 2018.

Damron was arrested on North Sligo Street by Montezuma County Sheriff Steve Nowlin and two Cortez police officers on July 20, 2017. Nowlin said officers had responded to a report of a homicide at Damron’s mobile home in the 7000 block of County Road 21.75.

The body of Kristie Damron, 62, was found in his backyard that morning.

Deputies had confronted Damron the night before the arrest in response to a report of domestic violence and assault. He said deputies were able to “de-escalate the situation” and remove Damron’s wife and son from the property.

sdolan@the-journal.com

Timeline

Key dates in the case against Jeremiah Paul Damron.

JULY 20, 2017:

The body of Damron’s mother, 62-year-old Kristie Damron, is found apparently beaten and burned to death in his backyard early in the morning. Cortez police and sheriff’s deputies arrest Damron on North Sligo Street at 10:25 a.m

JULY 24, 2017:

Damron appears in Montezuma County District Court for an advisement hearing. His bail is set at $500,000, and he is ordered to undergo a mental competency evaluation through the Colorado Department of Human Services.

JULY 28, 2017:

Damron is charged with first-degree murder. His mental competency hearing is scheduled for Sept. 6, and his preliminary hearing for Sept. 22.

SEPT. 6, 2017:

Damron’s hearings are delayed after CDHS says the results of his evaluation will not be available until October.

OCT. 17, 2017:

Damron is ruled mentally incompetent to participate in his defense. District Judge Todd Plewe orders him to undergo treatment at the CDHS Institute in Pueblo.

JAN. 16, 2018:

CDHS requests a delay in Damron’s treatment, and his hearing is postponed to April 3. Plewe turns down a request to reduce bail.

MARCH 2, 2018:

Damron is deemed competent to proceed by CDHS Institute, according to court records.

APRIL 17, 2018:

Plewe grants a defense request for a second assessment. The next competency hearing is June 22.

JUNE 22, 2018:

Defense attorney challenges mental health evaluations.

AUG. 1, 2018:

Plewe finds Damron competent to stand trial.

OCT. 2, 2018:

Damron pleads not guilty by reason of insanity. Plewe orders CDHS Institute to complete sanity evaluation.

NOV. 20, 2018:

Sanity evaluation has not been conducted. Plewe issues second order for CHS Institute to complete sanity evaluation.

March 14, 2018:

Court finds Damron not guilty by reason of insanity. He is committed to the Colorado Department of Human Services.

The Journal