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New evidence pushes Bessey trial back

Posted: Thursday, Jun 26th, 2014

Daniel Bessey,

ALAMOSA—An emergency motions hearing in Alamosa District Court Monday led to vacation of a double homicide trial set to begin next week, along with setting another trial date in either November or December.

Daniel Bessey, 43, formerly of Saguache, is charged with first-degree murder in the death of Sarah Janay Beasley, 29 and John Salazar, 54, at their Monte Vista home during the early morning hours of Feb. 12, 2012.

The reason for the resetting was that the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) had discovered some important ballistic evidence and testing allegedly tied it to the homicides.

Chief 12th Judicial District Judge Pattie Swift granted a defense motion to continue the trial so their expert could test the evidence, which had apparently been in the mountains for a while before being found.

The uncertainty as to dates was caused by the fact that Bradley Douglas Faux, 21, Capulin, will go on trial Oct. 27 for First-Degree Murder in the September 2013 shooting death of Mason Anthony Rodriguez, 21, Alamosa.

Gun owner comes forward

The original owner of a handgun eventually traced to Bessey, but not yet found, had informed FBI Special Agent James Moore that he had been shooting it west of Leadville and some bullets might be in a stump there, with spent cartridges on the ground.

Trial was to begin with jury selection June 27 and cover the first three weeks in July.

Prosecutors and public defenders have scheduled several hearings to debate evidence issues, a problem that has plagued the court since Bessey first began appearing to answer charges that he killed Salazar and Beasley.

When Bessey was first bound over for trial, Rio Grande County Judge Patrick Hayes noted that the case was circumstantial due to the lack of a weapon or ballistic evidence. The new CBI find is believed to tie up at least one of those loose ends.

Moore’s searching

While attorneys were preparing for trial, Agent Moore went to the area described by the gun owner and covered a large area, but didn’t find anything.

He returned again and still found nothing, and then the search was hampered by snow.

Finally, with assistance of the witness, he returned and found a stump with bullets in it and some spent shell casings nearby.

Testing of this evidence by the defense caused delay of the latest trial.

Public Defenders Amanda Hopkins and Jill Allen had asked the court to cite and sanction the prosecution with discovery violations for not letting them know about the ballistics.

Judge Swift said it wasn’t the prosecution’s fault that the evidence wasn’t found earlier, and Head Prosecutor Jack Roth of the Colorado Attorney General’s violent crimes staff noted that it would have been difficult to go to the Leadville area with snow shovels and search for something that might not be found.

She said the defense would need time to deal with the evidence and new information, and that could only be done if enough time was granted.

The judge earlier had denied motions to suppress cell phone evidence and other information gathered during interviews with Bessey after the homicides were discovered. Moore was one of the agents who arrested Bessey in Oklahoma and interviewed him at that location.

Still up in the air is the role Beasley’s two older sons will play. The eldest will likely be called to testify, but they are no longer in Colorado, and the defense has challenged his competency to remember what happened the night he saw his mother killed and accurately testify about his recollections.

A hearing on that will be held at 11 a.m. Thursday, June 26. Beasley’s three sons, including her youngest, who is the son of Bessey, witnessed the killing of their mother and are no longer in Colorado.

For the complete article see the 06-26-2014 issue.

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