Who is the Colorado Criminal Justice Reform Coalition?
Our mission is to reverse the trend of mass incarceration in Colorado. We are a coalition of nearly 7,000 individual members and over 100 faith and community organizations who have united to stop perpetual prison expansion in Colorado through policy and sentence reform.
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.
A Lincoln County trial judge has set aside the murder conviction of a Limon prison inmate, ruling that District Attorney Carol Chambers' office withheld evidence that could have boosted David Bueno's defense.
Chambers' assistant district attorney said Wednesday that the defense had the information in question available to them at trial "and sat on this for strategic reasons."
Chambers had sought the death penalty when Bueno stood trial in 2008 for the 2004 stabbing death of inmate Jeffrey Heird.
Bueno, 46, was convicted but sentenced to life in prison. He was serving a 24-year sentence for burglary at the time of the slaying and remains in prison for that conviction.
In his ruling, District Judge Douglas Tallman did not find misconduct on the part of prosecutors.
"The Trial Court cannot say with certainty the District Attorney acted in bad faith by withholding relevant and possibly exculpatory evidence," he wrote in the ruling.
Bueno's attorneys had argued that Heird was a white supremacist and informant probably killed by other white supremacists who pinned the killing on Bueno and inmate Alejandro Perez, who is awaiting trial.
Minutes after the discovery of Heird's body, a prison nurse found a letter allegedly from the Aryan Brotherhood Nation threatening to "exterminate" white inmates who "refuse to accept their proud race."
Two days later, another white inmate, David Hollenbeck, was found dead from blunt-force trauma to his chest, a death ruled "suspicious."
Hollenbeck lived in the same area of the prison as Heird and allegedly was an Aryan Brotherhood target.
"This was a death penalty case. This man's life was on the line, and this was not peripheral information by any means," said Derek Samuelson, a former public defender who represented Bueno at the trial. "This was a piece of evidence that was not only exculpatory but at the heart of David's defense."