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People v. Hankins

Court of Appeals of Colorado, First Division

June 5, 2014

The People of the State of Colorado, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
Terrence Joe Hankins, Defendant-Appellant

Page 1034

Editorial Note:

This Opinion is subject to revision upon final publication.

Moffat County District Court No. 07CR159. Honorable Michael A. O'Hara, III, Judge.

John W. Suthers, Attorney General, John J. Fuerst, III, Senior Assistant Attorney General, Denver, Colorado, for Plaintiff-Appellee.

Douglas K. Wilson, Colorado State Public Defender, Lynn Noesner, Deputy State Public Defender, Denver, Colorado, for Defendant-Appellant.

OPINION

NIETO, JUDGE [*]

Page 1035

[¶1] Defendant, Terrence Joe Hankins, appeals the judgment of conviction entered upon jury verdicts finding him guilty of first degree murder and abuse of a corpse. We affirm.

I. Background

[¶2] In August of 2007, defendant was arrested for the murder of his wife in Craig, Colorado, which is in Moffat County. He was subsequently charged with first degree murder and other crimes. Craig's only daily newspaper, the Craig Daily Press, covered the case, publishing many articles. Defendant moved for a change of venue, citing the number of news articles that had been published. The trial court initially granted the motion. Later, after a remand from the supreme court reversing the suppression of defendant's confession, the court reconsidered and denied the motion.

[¶3] Ultimately, this case was tried in Moffat County and the defendant was convicted of first degree murder and abuse of a corpse. All other charges were dismissed.

[¶4] This appeal followed.

II. Venue

[¶5] Defendant contends that the trial court's denial of his motion for a change of venue violated his right to a fair trial. We disagree.

A. Standard of Review

[¶6] We review a trial court's decision to grant or deny a change of venue for an abuse of discretion. People v. Harlan, 8 P.3d 448, 468 (Colo. 2000), overruled on other grounds by People v. Miller, 113 P.3d 743, 748 (Colo. 2005); see also Crim. P. 21(a)(1) (" The place of trial may be changed when the court in its sound discretion determines that a fair or expeditious trial cannot take place in the county or district in which the trial is pending." ).

B. Relevant Facts

[¶7] In his motion for change of venue, defendant documented twenty-four locally published articles on his case, some of which mentioned his confession to the killing, dismemberment of the victim's body, and other charges that were severed for a separate trial. Based on this publicity, defendant ...


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