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Embattled 11th JD DA addresses allegations she’s contributed to case dismissals, freed sexual predators

FREMONT COUNTY, Colo. (KRDO) -- For nearly six months, 13 Investigates has reached out to 11th Judicial District Attorney Linda Stanley for comment on numerous allegations being hurled towards her office. She has only responded once, despite our attempts to reach her dozens of times. It wasn't until we found her in open court, and asked to speak with her, that she addressed critics' concerns over her handling of criminal cases in Fremont County.

Now, after all those months, Stanley is sharing her side of the story.

The allegations stem from motions filed by defense attorneys in Fremont County that claim the DA's office has a "pattern and practice" of not properly handing over evidence to them, commonly referred to as Rule 16 violations.

13 Investigates has collected all of these motions filed in a variety of criminal cases and found that there are nearly three dozen cases impacted by these allegations, some of which have led to judges granting PR bonds, cashless bail, or outright dismissing cases due to this.

Most notably, District Court Judge Kaitlin Turner dropped a 1st-degree murder charge for Joseph Tippett, who was accused of shooting his sleeping dad twice in the back of the head. Now, Tippett is being prosecuted for 2nd-degree murder charges after Turner's ruling.

In that ruling, Turner cited numerous cases impacted by Rule 16 violations during Stanley's tenure. However, Stanley wasn't ready to say, Turner, who ran against her for the elected position in 2020, was basing her rulings off past vendettas.

"I don't think my opinion matters. I'll let the public try to figure out what they think is going on. And remember that this district is a four-county district and really we don't have any of these issues at all in the other three counties," Stanley said.

DA Stanley claims that public defenders in Fremont County haven't acted in good faith when they believe they are missing a record, video, or other piece of evidence in a criminal case.

"It requires conferring with the other party. And it says no motions shall be filed. Yet motions are filed if the public defender thinks that there was possibly something missing and there is no conferral," Stanley said.

In addition to that, the elected DA says there hasn't been any "prejudice" to any defendant accused of a crime in Fremont County. She claims that must be proved for the rule 16 violations to be validated in a court of law.

"There has to be some prejudice to the defendant. In other words, hey, we had to totally change our strategy around what we were going to do on our preliminary hearing or our trial. And now this document came out. We have to change it," Stanley said.

The Fremont County Commissioners have been outspoken in their criticism of Stanley in 2023. They expressed in a public meeting that Stanley has stopped communicating with them altogether. That reared its head this year when Stanley's budget remained the same, despite requesting a budget increase in 2022.

"By not allocating dollars to the district attorney's office, then they're basically stating their constituents do not want it allocated for the prosecution of the crimes that the Fremont County Sheriff's Office and the Cañon City Police Department bring to us because their work doesn't matter until we get to here for the most part," Stanley claimed.

Commissioner Dwayne McFall told 13 Investigates they are happy to give Stanley's office a raise, but when they requested her budgets, he said Stanley was unable to provide them. Stanley vehemently disputes that.

"They reached out to me in January and wanted to have a meeting and specifically had the Fremont County administrator ask me to produce certain documents that they wanted. I produced every document they asked for and at that meeting, they had said that they wanted to see an audit. So I said, I'll get my auditor on it," said Stanley.

Now, she says that the audit is underway and is expected to be completed in the coming weeks. The DA said she will be reaching out to the Commissioners then in hopes of setting up a budget meeting for 2024.

Another point of discussion was how absent Stanley has been from the public eye. She has continually ignored our requests to speak with her, offering a sit-down interview multiple times. Wednesday, it took 13 Investigates approaching her after a court case to be able to speak with her.

She claims this is because she is barred from speaking on open and or sealed cases that are blocked from public records.

"I'm forbidden from it. Defense can do it all day long. I can't say a word about an open case, sealed cases. The law is very clear. You can't even mention them in a motion. There're sealed cases for a reason," Stanley said.

Despite repeated discussions in the community surrounding what's going on inside the DA's office, Stanley said she was content to not respond to the accusations, which would have then prompted a war of words "in the media," she said.

"I was incredibly upset at me not being able to defend myself. I didn't think it was going to matter at all what I said at that point, that I was being kind of attacked. You were reporting on the attack, but that's how I felt. I felt it wasn't a good thing for me to get involved in this and just let it go away and let it lie," Stanley said.

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Sean Rice

Sean is reporter with the 13 Investigates team. Learn more about him here.


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