A wirecutters, a remark about the unpublicized fact that wire had been used to bind one of the victims and a missing .22 calibre revolver figure in the arrest affidavit against Kenneth H. Botham Jr.
The information came to light Monday in the 18-page affidavit signed by Sheriff’s Deputy Milo Vig and presented to Mesa County Judge Harold Moss.
Judge Moss signed the arrest warrant Saturday morning, and Botham was arrested later that morning as he was driving south on U.S. 50.
The 27-year-old Botham is charge in the murders of his wife, Pat, Mrs. Linda Miracle and the two small Miracle children, Troy and Chad. Their bodies were found in the Gunnison River near Bridgeport in late September.
Among the statements alleging probable cause for Botham’s arrest were:
– A claim that Botham had commented to law officers that he knew Mrs. Miracle had been tied down with wire – a fact that had not been made released to the public at the time the comment was made.
– Wirecutters removed from Botham’s car had been used to cut the wire binding the bodies of Mrs. Miracle and Mrs. Botham. Botham had identified the wirecutters, which bore traces of blood, as his. Markings on the wire binding the two women were identified as being from Botham’s wirecutters.
– Botham told an investigator that there was “all sorts of wire” in a shed portion of his carport, but there was none in his shed when it was checked.
– A friend’s recollection that he had seen Botham use a .22 calibre western revolver but that the .22 was not among those turned in to police by Botham. The two Miracle children were also shot with a .22. A witness also claimed that Botham had told him a pistol was taken from his vehicle and he had reported it to authorities. However, Grand Junction police and sheriff’s officers claim they never received the report.
– A neighbor’s testimony that she was awake at 1 a.m. on Aug. 23 and saw a vehicle similar to Botham’s at the Miracle house and a man whose build was similar to Botham’s going into that house. She also testified she saw the car leave “a short time later.”
A report that the probable cause of Mrs. Miracle’s death was either suffocation or drowning.
Botham was brought into Judge Moss’s court Monday afternoon for his first hearing, which consisted mainly of an advisement of his rights as a defendant.
A change in lawyers looms, as Warren Reams, the lawyer accompanying Botham to court, said “It is economically unfeasible for them (the Botham family) to proceed” with paying for a private lawyer.
“I will not be handling the defense. I have suggested to Botham that…he request the public defender’s office,” Reams said.
Dist. Atty. Terrance Farina told Judge Moss he has no objection to the public defender as Botham’s lawyer, but added: “We’ll make inquiry. As recently as Friday before last he (Botham) had $14,000, we have understood.”
To be eligible for the public defender’s services, a defendant must be without income to pay a private attorney’s fees.
Botham and his lawyer were given until Nov. 20 to decide whether he wishes a preliminary hearing. At that hearing in county court, testimony would be heard to establish whether there is probable cause to hold him on charges of which he has been accused.
In his advisement to Botham Monday afternoon, Judge Moss noted that he has the right to remain silent and refuse to testify throughout the entire case, the right to counsel and the right to request a hearing to reduce bond. He is currently on $500,000 bond and is expected to remain in jail, because of the size of the bond.
The four charges of murder are based on “premediated intent,” and Judge Moss told Botham he could get life imprisonment or the death penalty if he is found guilty.
Although Public Defender Bob Emerson was not in the court room and it was understood he was not in town, Botham and his father, Kenneth H. Botham Sr., talked several times with Jim Wilcox, Emerson’s investigator.
Botham was handcuffed – a standard procedure for jail prisoners – as he came into the court house, accompanied by several officers from the sheriff’s department. The handcuffs were taken from his wrists before he entered the court room, however.
The defendant sat with his face often leaning on one hand or the other throughout the hearing, occasionally removing his glasses, but did not display any particular emotion. He was clad in a gray sweatshirt and dark trousers.
In addition to Farina, three of his deputies were seated in the court room, although they were not at the defense table. Other than newsmen and sheriff’s officers, there were three other persons in the small county court room.
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