Another chapter in the allegations charging Kenneth H. Botham Jr. with four murders is set for 2:30 p.m. Feb. 2 in the Mesa County District Court Room of Judge William Ela.
That date was set shortly after 2 p.m. Tuesday, when Mesa County Judge Harold Moss ruled that probable cause exists to bind the case over to the district court for more action. Judge Moss’ ruling came at the conclusion of testimony in a preliminary hearing.
The 27-year-old Botham is charged with the murders of his wife, Patricia, Mrs. Linda Miracle and her sons, Troy and Chad, last Aug. 23. All four bodies were recovered from the Gunnison River in late September and early October.
Public Defender Robert Emerson, who conducted the preliminary hearing along with State Deputy Public Defender Lee Foreman of Denver, declined to say what motions – if any – will be entered at the district court level.
Among possible motions which the public defender might ask, however, would be a routine one for discovery of prosecution evidence, a change of venue, suppression of certain evidence and statements and a ruling on illegal search and seizure.
If any of these motions are entered, they would probably be argued at an omnibus hearing, the date for which would be set during the Feb. 2 court appearance.
Botham must also enter a plea before the case gets to the actual trial stage.
In afternoon testimony Tuesday, Sheriff’s Investigator Milo Vig said on cross-examination by the public defender that there was “no connection he knew of” between a weapon found under the former Botham, house and the four murders. Colorado Bureau of Investigation tests on the weapon are not complete.
Vig had testified Tuesday morning that the weapon was found on Christmas day. The .22 Western style revolver was found in a crawl space beneath a closet off the living room. Vig also testified that Botham had been “in continuous custody in jail since Nov. 8, 1975.
The two Miracle children were shot with a .22. Causes of deaths of Mrs. Miracle and Mrs. Botham were officially given by the pathologist as “asphyxiated obstruction of the respiratory airway,” according to testimony by Sheriff’s Investigator Mike Smith Tuesday. The arrest warrant gave the probable cause of deaths of the two women as either suffocation or drowning.
Two women witnesses who testified at the hearing Tuesday afternoon told events of the early morning of Aug. 23, when it is believed that Mrs. Botham and the Miracles were killed.
Mrs. Cora Hiner of 1926 Ouray, the home next to the Bothams’ residence, said she was awakened by the Botham dog barking “eight or nine times.” She said that 25 to 30 minutes later she heard what she thought were two shots and that they came directly from the Miracle home.
Next, she said, a car started either in front of the Botham home or across the street. She said she had remained in her bed, but when lights came into her driveway, she got up because she thought it might be her son coming home.
She said she went into the living room and could see a car with its lights on in the Miracle yard. She said she saw a man come out of the house carrying a big object wrapped in a rug or robe-type material and that the article seemed heavy and bulky. She also testified that she didn’t see the car drive away, but that, according to the sound, it drove toward 18th St., west from the area.
Mrs. Marge McConnell of 513 N. 19th St. testified however that she saw a vehicle with lights out in front of the Miracles’ home. It later went east on Ouray with the lights out, she said. She also said she saw a man getting out of the car in front of the Miracle home, carrying a blanket or similar article with him. She said she had been watching for her son to come home and that he then came home, so that she ceased watching at the window.
Both women indicated the vehicle they had seen was a square-built one, similar to the type driven by Botham.
Much of the testimony during the hearing was based on allegations contained in the arrest warrant. Among them were contentions that Botham’s wirecutters had been used to cut the bindings found on the four bodies and that Botham had owned a .22 Western style revolver which he had later claimed was stolen.
The small Mesa County Court Room was crowded with spectators during the entire hearing. Seated at the prosecutor’s table were Dist. Atty. Terrance Farina and his assistant prosecutor, Clay Hanlon. Scattered throughout the court room, during most of the proceedings were several other members of the district attorney’s legal staff.
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