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Judge declines to reduce bond in Cortez murder case

State delays suspect’s mental health treatment
Jeremiah Damron, center, during his July arrest on suspicion of homicide.

Montezuma County District Court Judge Todd Plewe has denied a request to reduce bond in a Cortez murder case after the suspect’s court-ordered mental health treatment was delayed.

Cortez resident Jeremiah Damron, who faces a first-degree murder charge in the death of his mother, was ruled mentally incompetent to stand trial in October. The court ordered him to undergo treatment at the Colorado Mental Health Institute Pueblo, requesting that the state transfer him there before Jan. 16. But at a status conference on Tuesday, Plewe said the Institute asked that the order be delayed until late March. Plewe denied a request from Damron’s defense attorney, Paul Warren, that his bond be reduced so he could get mental health treatment locally.

During the hearing, Warren argued that Damron’s incarceration at the Montezuma County Detention Center, where he has remained since his arrest in July, is detrimental to his health. He said Damron had been placed in solitary confinement at least once and had lost weight during his time in jail. The state’s delay in fulfilling the court order, he said, could be interpreted as “contempt.”

District Attorney Will Furse, the prosecuting attorney, said he agreed with Warren’s concerns but didn’t believe they amounted to a reason to reduce Damron’s bond, which was set at $500,000 after his arrest. He said the defense had not shown why it would be safe for a mentally unstable man, accused of a violent crime, to be released to the public.

Plewe ultimately sided with Furse on the issue, but he said he would ask the Institute to report to him by Feb. 9 to set a date when Damron could be transferred to the Pueblo facility, instead of March 29 as the letter had requested.

“I understand the frustrations of the defendant, and I share them,” Plewe said. “However, my job as a judge is to make sure we have adequately reviewed this case.”

He said the defense might be able to pursue civil action against the Institute, but he said that would be “another case in front of another judge.”

Damron’s next court appearance has been scheduled for April 3 at 2:30 p.m.

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