The Denver Post
"All hell is going to break loose."
That's a judge's take on District Attorney Carol Chambers' office withholding bombshell evidence in a death-penalty case.
It's not often you hear a judge haul off like 15th District Chief Judge Stanley Brinkley did about the Chambers team's concealing key facts while prosecuting David Bueno for the murder of a fellow inmate at the Limon Correctional Facility.
Bueno's defense centered on the theory that white supremacists at the prison killed Jeffrey Heird and blamed the murder on three Latino inmates, including Bueno and co-defendant Alejandro Perez.
Heird was labeled a rat for not warning fellow white inmates about a prison drug bust.
As I wrote a few weeks ago, prosecutors withheld the fact that minutes after finding Heird's body in 2004, a prison nurse discovered a letter written by the Aryan Nation threatening to "exterminate" white inmates who "refuse to accept their proud race." DAs also failed to disclose that two days after Heird's death, another white inmate was found in the same living unit with blunt chest trauma. David Hollenbeck was named as a target in the Aryan Nation letter. He died three days later.
"We have been messing around with this case, playing hide-and-go- seek," Brinkley chastised, court documents show. "It's a travesty."
I don't know David Bueno, 45, whom a jury convicted and sentenced to life in prison rather than death. His guilt or innocence isn't the point.
The point is that DAs sat on more than half of the evidence in his case, including the two pages that would have been most helpful for his defense.
And that Chambers' office took 17 months after Bueno's conviction to hand over the documents — only after Brinkley ordered it to do so as he presides over Perez's case.
Who is the Colorado Criminal Justice Reform Coalition?
Our chief areas of interest include drug policy reform, women in prison, racial injustice, the impact of incarceration on children and families, the problems associated with re-entry and stopping the practice of using private prisons in our state.
If you would like to be involved please go to our website and become a member.
Thursday, October 15, 2009
The Denver Post