Judge approves defense request to postpone ex El Paso County Sheriff Maketa’s second trial

Author: Lance Benzel - September 6, 2017 - Updated: September 6, 2017

Former El Paso County Sheriff Terry Maketa leaves the courtroom after being acquitted on three of seven charges after a jury hangs on the remaining charges Tuesday, July 11, 2017, in the 4th Judicial District Court inside the Terry R. Harris Judicial Building in Colorado Springs, Colo. (The Gazette, Christian Murdock)

Ex-El Paso County Sheriff Terry Maketa will get a three-month reprieve before he is re-tried on corruption allegations.

Fourth Judicial District Judge Larry E. Schwartz on Tuesday approved a defense request to postpone Maketa’s Oct. 3 re-trial until Jan. 27. The judge also agreed to postpone former Undersheriff Paula Presley’s October trial until Feb. 25.

Former sheriff’s Cmdr. Juan “John” San Agustin did not ask for a continuance and remains on track for a Nov. 7 trial.

Attorneys for the three defendants hashed out next steps in the case during a conference call in Schwartz’s courtroom. Maketa was on the line, his attorney said, but didn’t speak.

Maketa, 52, had a two-week trial beginning June 27 that ended in irresolution, with a jury acquitting him on three counts and deadlocking on four. Prosecutors announced days later that they would re-try him on the remaining charges: extortion, conspiracy to commit extortion and two counts of official misconduct.

In asking for a new trial date, David Kaplan of Denver, one of Maketa’s attorneys, said his legal team needs more time to evaluate a possible defense witness. Kaplan also said his client might need surgery, and Maketa wanted to pursue an “employment opportunity” that conflicted with the October trial setting. No specifics on either topic were given in court.

Maketa, who left office under a cloud in December 2014, is part owner of Mak-3 Construction LLC., a commercial builder based in Wasilla, Alaska, records show. Maketa retains a home in Colorado Springs, according to company filings.

Prosecutors said in court they intend to pursue two felony counts of kidnapping against San Agustin even though they dismissed those charges against Maketa before his first trial. Lead prosecutor Mark Hurlbert had different evidence against the men.

The kidnapping counts allege that San Agustin ordered the arrest and jailing of a domestic violence victim after she was coerced into dropping allegations against a one-time deputy who was a friend of Maketa’s. Those allegations also fueled the witness intimidation counts against Maketa that a jury threw out.

Maketa and his former top officials are accused of a variety of abuses of power, including claims that Maketa threatened to terminate a $5.2 million-a-year contract unless the contractor fired a personal rival – the most serious allegation Maketa will face at his second trial.

The official misconduct counts against Maketa, both misdemeanors, allege that he sought a potentially career-ending sanction against two deputies because they had crossed him politically.

Lance Benzel