Golden – Kenneth H. Botham Jr. sat alertly erect, leaning his folded arms on the document-strewn table.
By 4:30 Tuesday afternoon, the second day of testimony in Botham’s retrial on four charges of murder had worn on the rest of the court. Several jurors yawned. Observers slumped in the court benches. Bailiff Jeannie Lee rose to perform some chores.
Even as she changed the court docket to read Jan. 13, however, Botham’s attention remained fixed on Lee Foreman, his court-appointed lawyer, who was grilling the final witness that day.
Mesa County Sheriff’s Department Investigator Milo Vig had been called to the witness stand by Mesa County District Attorney Terrance Farina to recall the details of Botham’s journey to Ouray on Aug. 22, 1975.
Gaps between witnessed sightings of Botham late that night in Ouray are the key to the defense’s case. It was then, some 100 miles north in Grand Junction, that Botham’s 25-year-old wife Patricia, along with her neighbor, Linda Miracle, 25, and Miracle’s two sons, Troy, 5, and Chad, 3, disappeared.
The four were found dead in the Gunnison River later that summer. Botham was charged with the murders, convicted in December 1976, then granted a retrial last June when the Colorado Supreme Court overturned the conviction. A month later the court location was switched to Golden, where District Judge Winston Wolvington is now hearing the case.
Foreman asked Vig to repeat and elaborate on his now six-year-old investigations into Botham’s whereabouts that night. Several witnesses earlier in the day testified they had seen Botham early that evening. But from 9 p.m., when Botham says he jogged into Ouray from Polly’s Motel where he was staying, until late the following day when Botham says he returned to Grand Junction, no one has come forth to say they saw him.
Vig, balding with silver-rimmed glasses, rocked nervously in the witness stand as Foreman pressed him for details. Yes, Vig recalled, Botham was driving a 1972 Toyota Land Cruiser on what was a repeated trip for him to photograph the Western Slope. But no, he couldn’t say whether Botham’s visit the next day with the minister at Mesa Baptist Church in Grand Junction was at 4 or 4:30 p.m.
Such a detail may not prove critical in the trial, but Foreman did emphasize Vig’s lack of total recollection. The defense attorney also reiterated the story of Botham’s hour-long visit with the minister and Botham’s role in the church as choir director. Botham had told Vig and other investigators that he had met with the Rev. O.J. Holler, as usual, to coordinate the upcoming sermon with the choir music selections.
Other witnesses testifying Tuesday included Dr. Thomas Canfield, a Montrose forensic pathologist who analyzed the asphyxiation of Patricia Botham. Miracle had also been asphyxiated, while her two boys had been shot.
Nelson Jeanette, a hair fiber expert, took the stand to testify on hair samples taken at the scene where the bodies were found.
That and other physical evidence linking the defendant to the homicides will again prove key in the case, Foreman said after Tuesday’s court adjourned. “This time, though, we have our scientific evidence to counter theirs,” he said.
Foreman declined to elaborate on just what evidence he would challenge. But he said it would be the focus of the defense presentation in the case, which is expected to continue for at least two weeks.
Again in the courtroom Tuesday were several members of the Miracle family, including Mrs. Foister Miracle and Mrs. Delbert Miracle.
Others in the courtroom included Mr. and Mrs. Lloyd Frantz of Denver. They said they came for the day because their daughter had once sung with Patricia Botham in a Grand Junction group called the Sweet Adelines.
With the day’s proceedings promptly cut off at 5 p.m., Judge Wolvington repeated his warning to the jurors, who are sequestered at the Golden Holiday Inn, not to discuss the case, even among themselves. Wolvington then took the prosecution to task for having also booked some of their team at the same hotel. Jurors had complained to the judge that they had wanted to swim in the hotel pool, but found one of the prosecuting attorneys paddling around.
Previous / Next
Return to Article List