Murder case arraignment postponed by judge again

Delay centers on DNA evidence

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A 27-year-old Dolores resident charged with first-degree murder had his arraignment postponed for another 56 days on Tuesday afternoon.

The latest delay is to give Luther Hampson’s defense more time to see the raw data leading to the DNA evidence that has been obtained.

Hampson is accused of murdering fellow Dolores resident Jonathan Hayes, 27, on Jan. 14. His body was discovered by hikers near Dolores.

Colorado statute states that the penalty for a first-degree murder conviction is life in prison without the possibility of parole or the death penalty.

District Judge Douglas Walker at first questioned postponing the arraignment again, asking if the court would be in the same situation in close to two months. In July, Walker postponed the arraignment 61 days to allow the DNA evidence to be turned over to the defense.

“Why does that affect the day of the arraignment?” Walker asked.

District Attorney Russell Wasley said he had no objection to the arraignment being postponed because the DNA could prove to be crucial evidence.

Wasley said the initial report has been sent out and thinks the supplemental report will be sent out by the criminal science investigation exponentially.

Hampson’s attorney, Justin Bogan said he wants to see what was used to obtain the results of the DNA before having his client enter a plea.

He also said the victim’s mother was not opposed to the postponement.

At Tuesday’s court hearing several friends and relatives of Hayes attended the meeting, some who were crying.

Walker set the next arraignment for 1:30 p.m. on Nov. 13 and told both attorneys that he wants to move forward with the trial on that date.

“I would be very interested in getting the case moving forward at this point,” he said.

Daniel W. Edwards, part of the Colorado State Attorney General’s Homicide Assistance Team, which provides support to local prosecutors in murder cases, told Judge Walker that Hampson had made an inappropriate gesture in the courtroom.

Hampson started to give an explanation but was cut off by Bogan.

Walker said he did not see the gesture, but told Hampson that if he saw a gesture in the future, he would hold Hampson in contempt of court as well as other possible sanctions.

“Let us not see any more gestures in the future Mr. Hampson,” Walker said.

michaelm@cortezjournal.com