Ex El Paso County Sheriff Maketa acquitted on 3 charges; jury deadlocked on 4 charges
Author: Lance Benzel - July 11, 2017 - Updated: July 12, 2017
A partial mistrial has been declared in the trial of ex-Sheriff Terry Maketa, who was acquitted Tuesday on three of the charges against him and had a deadlocked jury on his other four counts.
Maketa was found not guilty of witness tampering, conspiracy to commit witness tampering and official misconduct. The jury was deadlocked on the other four counts. A jury forewoman said they could not come to agreement on the other charges and had nothing else to discuss.
“We’re thrilled it was a victory,” Maketa said after the jury was dismissed. On the hung counts, he added: “Twelve jurors could not unanimously accept the prosecution’s case, and that’s all I’m going to say.”
All 12 jurors were led out of the courthouse by two sheriff’s deputies and two clerks. One clerk said none of the jurors wanted to talk to the media.
District Judge Larry E. Schwartz has set a conference to discuss next steps for 9 a.m. July 17.
Update 4:10 p.m.
Jurors have “concluded deliberations” in the trial of ex-sheriff Terry Maketa. The parties will convene in the courtroom shortly. There has been no word yet if there is a verdict. Gazette reporters are at the courthouse and will report the outcome as soon as it is announced.
Update 1 p.m.
Jurors weighing the fate of ex-Sheriff Terry Maketa say they may already be deadlocked.
After less than five hours spent trying to reach a verdict, the six-man, six-woman panel sent two jury questions hinting at deep divisions.
After the latest, which came shortly before lunch, presiding District Judge Larry E. Schwartz agreed to deliver a “modified Allen instruction,” which is read to jurors by court staff after they have indicated they are unable to reach an accord.
“I’m going to give it to them to see if it helps them in terms of reaching a verdict,” Schwartz said.
The modified Allen instruction encourages jurors to resolve their differences “without violence to individual judgment.”
The actual language of the jury’s comments wasn’t read in court, but the significance of the court’s response is clear, experts said.
“What it probably indicates is there’s some fairly divided jurors,” said Colorado Springs attorney Joshua Tolini, who is unaffiliated with the case. “People are coming in there with some pretty definite opinions, and the chance of compromise is pretty limited.”
If the jury is unable to come to a unanimous decision, a mistrial or partial mistrial could be called.
But that’s a decision that won’t be rushed, said Colorado Springs attorney Phil Dubois, also unaffiliated.
“You don’t declare mistrial after just a few hours of jury work, even in a DUI case, never mind this.”
The jury is likely to determine the next steps, based on how their deliberations progress after receiving the modified Allen instruction, Tolini said. If the jury indicates no progress, “they’ll bring everyone in try to figure out what to do.”
Maketa, 52, faces seven counts, including four felonies: extortion, conspiracy to commit extortion, witness tampering and conspiracy to commit witness tampering. His trial began June 27, with two days of jury selection, and the case went to the panel on the sixth day of testimony.
The jury received the case at 4 p.m. Monday and went home an hour later. The panel resumed at 8:30 a.m. today.
Gazette reporter Jakob Rodgers contributed to this story.