Fremont County criminal cases dismissed or in jeopardy because of district attorney violations
FREMONT COUNTY, Colo. (KRDO) -- 13 Investigates obtained court documents that reveal multiple criminal cases are in jeopardy because of discovery violations by 11th Judicial District Attorney Linda Stanley's office.
After the DA's office was sanctioned due to the violations, a motion to dismiss was filed regarding the sexual assault on a child case. Now, a first-degree murder case could also be dismissed.
Brandon Allen, 39, was charged with Sexual Assault on a child in a position of trust and Sexual Assault on a Child in October 2022. The arresting documents detail accusations that Allen sexually assaulted a young girl on multiple occasions, accusations that Allen denied in interviews with the Florence Police Department.
However, court documents stated Allen lied several times but were consistent with the statements given by the victim and witnesses as to when and where the incident occurred.
Court documents detail that Allen's bond was modified to a PR bond on December 1, 2022, after the presiding judge found that "a discovery violation has occurred." Allen's public defender filed a motion that declared his defense team had received "less than 30 pages of meaningful discovery."
In addition, Allen's defense attorney claimed Stanley's office has not provided them with the following evidentiary pieces: multiple forensic and recorded interviews by Florence PD, body-worn camera video from the investigating detective, and reports from DHS (Department of Human Services) in Cañon City.
All that resulted in Allen's charges being dismissed. Stanley's office filed a motion to dismiss on January 25, 2023. Allen then had his criminal case sealed, but 13 Investigates was able to obtain documents before the sealing of his records.
"It's almost unheard of for law enforcement and the district attorney's office to not comply with Rule 16. It's the fundamental constitutional right. You have the right to know what evidence there is against you," Colorado Springs defense attorney Jeremy Loew said.
Loew said discovery issues between the prosecution and defense do happen on occasion, but they are usually handled quickly and do not typically jeopardize the status of entire cases.
"When there's repeated violations like this, the judges are forced to dismiss cases. A child made allegations of repeatedly being sexually assaulted by someone and the district attorney's office repeatedly failed to provide the evidence to the defense," Loew said.
The sex assault case isn't the only case marred with alleged discovery violations. The 1st-degree murder case against 36-year-old Joseph Tippet is as well.
Attorneys for Tippet have filed a motion that alleges they too have not received enough evidence in the case to formulate a defense the case.
Arresting documents state Tippet told Fremont County Sheriff's detectives that he shot his dad. His dad was found with two gunshot wounds to the back of the head in his home.
The presiding judge has not ruled to dismiss the case as a form of sanction against Stanley's office yet. However, he is looking into referring the case to another court to rule on the defense's motion.
"This is becoming habitual in this jurisdiction. The district attorney has a constitutional obligation and a statutory obligation to provide that information to the defense team. I don't know why the district attorney's office is not following the law," Loew said.
District Attorney Stanley is already under investigation by the Colorado Attorney Regulation Counsel after the defense attorney for the Barry Morphew case submitted a complaint outlining alleged discovery violations in that murder case. That investigation is still ongoing.
Stanley has not responded to 13 Investigates requests for comment on the discovery violations.
"These aren't traffic cases. These are sex assault cases that are getting dismissed because the district attorney isn't doing their job. This is extreme. I haven't seen this in my 15 years of practice," Loew said.