A .22 calibre Western style revolver was found Christmas day under the rented home once occupied by Kenneth H. Botham Jr. at 1914 Ouray.
That testimony by Mesa County Sheriff’s Investigator Milo Vig was among a handful of new facts emerging during a preliminary hearing this morning for Botham, accused of four counts of first degree murder.
Botham is charged with the murders of his wife, Patricia, 24, and their neighbors, Mrs. Linda Miracle, 24, and her sons, Troy, 5, and Chad, 3. The murders allegedly occurred last Aug. 23.
The two children were killed by shots in the head from a .22 calibre weapon. The two women were either drowned or suffocated, according to the arrest warrant.
An attempt at the start of the preliminary hearing to exclude the press and the public was denied by County Judge Harold Moss.
State Deputy Public Defender Lee Foreman of Denver, assisting local public defender Robert Emerson, as Botham’s counsel, sought the motions. He claimed that failure to clear the court would “engender severe prejudice.”
“Publicity is not necessary for the needs of the prosecution and the administration of justice,” Foreman said.
Dist. Atty. Terrance Farina, noting “I am not a spokesman for the news media,” added:
“I submit the press has acted responsibly (in reporting details of the murders and Botham’s arrest)…As far as acting responsibly, if the report is of salient facts, it does not necessarily prejudice the public.”
Judge Moss replied, in denying Foreman’s’ motion:
“I have no intention of putting any restrictions on the media…The Colorado press-bar compact has been working satisfactorily…If there was a trial with the Watergate publicity, we can have a trial with this limited interest.”
The .22 calibre revolver was found under a crawl space in the closet off the living room of the former Botham home by Steve Bryant, brother of the home-owner. He notified sheriff’s officers of the find.
Much of the testimony presented this morning by the eight witnesses called was information which had been included in the arrest warrant with which Botham was picked up last Oct. 8.
One new piece of evidence, heretofore not mentioned, came from Sheriff’s Investigator Mike Smith. He said that blood found on the floor mat of a landcruiser belonging to Botham was the same type as that of Troy Miracle. The blood was discovered in the Botham vehicle after he was arrested.
The testimony continued this afternoon. The hearing, which is to establish whether there is probable cause to continue the charges, is expected to be completed this afternoon. At that point, Judge Moss will rule whether probably [probable] cause has been established.
If it is established, Botham will be bound over to Mesa County District Court for further proceedings.
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