Charges dismissed, case closed against former El Paso County Sheriff Terry Maketa, ex-Undersheriff Paula Presley
Author: Lance Benzel, The Gazette - February 27, 2018 - Updated: February 27, 2018
A judge on Monday formally dismissed charges against Ex-El Paso County Sheriff Terry Maketa and former Undersheriff Paula Presley, closing the book on a prosecution that rocked the county and dealt a blow to the once-popular lawman’s legacy.
Fourth Judicial District Judge Larry E. Schwartz issued the orders Monday afternoon, 11 days after prosecutors requested the cases be dropped.
The move canceled a scheduled court appearance by Maketa set for Tuesday morning. His bond has been released and the case closed, records show.
Prosecutors petitioned to dismiss all charges Feb. 16 after back-to-back mistrials for Maketa in July and February failed to obtain any convictions on wide-ranging allegations of abuse of power. Maketa’s juries deadlocked 11-1 and 10-2 for conviction on multiple felony counts, jurors told The Gazette.
The dismissal means that prosecutors dropped the case without obtaining a single conviction. Maketa, 53, and Presley, 53, were indicted on nine counts each in May 2016 in news that stunned residents of a county where he had served three terms as sheriff. Maketa had left office five months earlier amid allegations that troubled his final term.
Charges against another former deputy, ex-Cmdr. John San Agustin, were dismissed in October after prosecutors cited evidentiary problems, including a prominent witness who was tarnished by allegations of racism after the charges were announced.
Eighteenth Judicial District prosecutors were appointed to handle the case after 4th Judicial District Attorney Dan May recused his office, citing the potential for conflicts.
In a motion filed earlier this month, prosecutors said they would be unlikely to prove the case because Maketa’s juries acquitted him of multiple counts, limiting the scope of evidence that a new panel would consider.
That would make it difficult to show the “totality” of what they called his criminal conduct, prosecutors said in a motion.