Kenneth H. Botham, accused of four counts of first-degree murder, pleaded innocent of all charges in a Mesa County District Court hearing this morning.
The 28-year-old Botham is scheduled for trial in Dist. Judge William Ela’s court, beginning Nov. 8. He is accused of murdering his wife, Patricia, and her neighbors, Mrs. Linda Miracle, Troy and Chad Miracle, last Aug. 23. Their bodies were found about a month later in the Gunnison River.
Botham came into court this morning on the first of three hearings on various motions made by his court-appointed lawyer, Public Defender Lee Foreman of Denver. He is scheduled to appear in court again Oct. 4 and 6, when Foreman argues motions for suppression of evidence and a request for a jury from outside Mesa County.
In this morning’s hearing, Foreman requested that questions and charts from polygraph tests administered to Botham and to former Deputy Sheriff Truman Haley be turned over to his office. Foreman told Judge Ela he had been given “expurgated versions of test” given Botham and Haley.
Foreman also confirmed that his office has had their client, Botham, on the polygraph five times. Dist. Atty. Terrance Farina, who objected to Foreman’s request, said that polygraphing is a subjective art and depends on the skill of the examiner. He also questioned whether results of polygraph tests would be admitted in the trial.
Foreman said: “Without access, we can’t decide.”
Judge Ela noted that the consent of the parties polygraphed is one way to get such tests admitted into evidence.
“The court feels that potentially valuable information may be gleaned from the programming of polygraph exams, even though the results may vary and most likely will be inadmissible,” Judge Ela said. He ruled that questions and answers from polygraphs administered by both the defense and the prosecution must be made available to the other sides. Farina noted that he had administered five polygraph tests, including the Haley one.
Foreman told Judge Ela that he wishes to state as a continuing motion his request that members of the press be excluded from pretrial hearings. Judge Ela made no comment.
On one other motion for discovery, Farina gave a conditional affirmative reply. Foreman asked that the tapes used by a Montrose pathologist to prepare autopsy reports on the four persons Botham is accused of murdering be given to the defense to assist in case preparation.
Farina said he had no objections, but said that Dr. Thomas Canfield, the pathologist, had been reluctant because they were “in the rough” as he examined the bodies. Farina indicated he believes they can be made available.
Farina said he has no objection to the defense lawyers examining materials now at Colorado Bureau of Investigation, provided that Foreman waives any argument against breaking the chain of custody on those materials. Foreman said he would do so and also said that the district attorney’s office could either have a representative present for any interviews or could have taped reports.
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