Defendant’s right to speedy trial violated Colorado Supreme Court rules

A Colorado man convicted of robbery who won a court reversal and was awaiting a new trial will now have the charges dismissed because his right to a speedy trial has been violated.

The Colorado Supreme Court ruled on Monday that criminal charges against Edward Kevin DeGreat — who remained in prison for about 18 months while awaiting a new trial after his earlier convictions were reversed — must now be dismissed with prejudice.

“The supreme court now reaffirms the well-established principal that a defendant has no duty to bring himself to trial,” the court ruled Monday. “Rather, the duty to pursue trial within the speedy trial deadline rests with the People and the district court. Because this duty went unmet here, the supreme court makes the rule absolute.”

In October 2018, the Supreme Court affirmed the Colorado Court of Appeals’ decision reversing DeGreat’s conviction for aggravated robbery and a crime-of-violence sentence enhancer. DeGreat was entitled to a new trial to introduce evidence that he had acted in self-defense, the court had ruled.

On Nov. 6, 2018, jurisdiction of the case was returned to the Arapahoe County District Court so DeGreat could be retried.

On Dec. 3, 2018, the district court issued a written scheduling order in the retrial case. Three days later, the public defender’s office filed an entry of appearance on behalf of DeGreat.

“After this filing, however, progress on the case ground to a halt,” the Supreme Court said in the ruling. “Neither defense counsel nor the People sought to schedule the status conference as ordered, and the district court made no further effort to obtain compliance from the parties.”

The office of District Attorney George Brauchler was prosecutor in the case.

On June 4, 2019, six months and 29 days after the court of appeal mandate, DeGreat filed a motion to dismiss based on violation of his right to a speedy trial. By law, the trial should have commenced in six months.

In October 2019, more than 11 months after the Court of Appeals’ mandate, the district court denied DeGreat’s motion to dismiss.

“When a district court is proceeding without jurisdiction to try a defendant in violation of his right to a speedy trial,” dismissal is an appropriate remedy, the Supreme Court ruled.

DeGreat was convicted by a jury of aggravated robbery with a deadly weapon and second-degree assault for a May 14, 2008, violent encounter with a Metro Taxi driver. He was sentenced to 16 years in prison. The taxi driver was stabbed multiple times. DeGreat, who was acquitted of an attempted murder charge in the original case, has claimed that another man stabbed the victim.

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