A motion to dismiss first degree murder charges against Kenneth H. Botham Jr. was denied this morning, setting the stage for the beginning of his Mesa County District Court trial Monday.

The trial, on four counts of first degree murder, is expected to take several weeks.

Botham is accused of killing his wife, Patricia, and her neighbors, Mrs. Linda Miracle, and sons, Troy and Chad, about Aug. 23, 1975.

Presented Friday

The dismissal motion, presented at a Friday morning pretrial hearing by Mesa County Public Defender Ed Lipton, charged that electronic listening devices had been placed in the examination room and cell of Botham at the county jail.

The alleged presence of the eavesdropping equipment was a violation of Botham’s right to privacy, the public defender’s office claimed.

In the motion to dismiss, Lipton introduced two microphones, which Dep. Dist. Atty. Clay Hanlon agreed had been in the dayroom of the jail.  But Sheriff L. R. Williams testified that the microphones had never been used.  He said they had been put in jail walls when the jail was built in 1963 but had made too much noise to use.

None in rooms

Williams also testified that to his knowledge there had been no microphone in any room used by Botham and his lawyers.

Dist. Judge William Ela, denying the motion, said no connections had been drawn between the alleged monitoring system and the rights of the defendant.

Judge Ela also denied a motion by the public defender to isolate the whole jury panel of about 160 persons prior to jury selection.

A third motion, to conduct individual questioning of all jurors in isolation was denied in part.  Judge Ela ruled that discussions on publicity and the death penalty will be conducted with individual jurors away from the public.

14 jurors

Judge Ela, representatives of the district attorney’s office and of the public defender’s office agreed to empanel 14 jurors.  Two of them will be alternate jurors, to be used if one of the regular jurors becomes unavailable for duty.

The jury is expected to report for duty at 9 a.m. Monday.


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