Mesa County District Judge William Ela will continue to preside as the judge in the Kenneth H. Botham Jr. murder case.

That is the effect of denial by the Colorado Supreme Court of a writ of prohibition filed by the state public defender’s office, Associate Justice Donald Kelly told the Sentinel this morning.  Justice Kelly is the presiding judge in the Supreme Court during Chief Justice Edward Pringle’s absence this week.

The decision to deny the writ was made by the court en banc, which means that all of the participating judges concurred in the decision.

Met last week

The judges met last week on the issue and made no announcement of a decision.  It had been assumed they would meet again on their regular meeting date next Thursday, but a court source said instead they decided to have a special meeting and the decision was handed down Monday.

The writ was filed about two weeks ago by the state public defender, Lee Foreman, asking Judge Ela be removed from the case.  The immediate reason was a charge that the judge had said a confession “should be choked out of a defendant” when one was arrested.  Two affidavits, from State Public Defender Rollie Rodgers and Arapahoe County District Judge Richard Greene, were a part of the exhibits.

Also cited in the briefs filed with the Supreme Court were these claims:

-  That for a period of several weeks after his arrest, Botham was not represented by counsel and filed his motion for a preliminary hearing pro se (for himself).

-  That Judge Ela, told in chambers of the claim of prejudicial statements he had made, had told the public defender the proper remedy was to file a motion for substitution of the judge.

-   That Judge Ela’s comments to the news media that he believed they had acted responsibly in reporting events on the Botham case to date indicated a “pre-judgment” on his part.

The exhibits filed with Supreme Court also included several copies of news stories, television and radio comments relative to the Botham case.

No opinion issued

In denying a writ of prohibition, the court issued no opinion other than the denial.

The Botham case had progressed up to a hearing for a change of venue when the writ of prohibition was filed.  That hearing was postponed at the time the public defender’s office gave notice of intent to file for the writ of prohibition.

Judge Ela said this noon that the next step in the Botham case will be to set a new hearing date on the change of venue motion.


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