WALSENBURG — The first degree murder trial of 51-year old Walsenburg businessman Ralph Candelario, originally set to begin this month, has been rescheduled to begin February 22, 2016. On Monday, September 28, Deputy Attorney General Matthew Durkin, one of the special prosecutors assigned to the case for the Third Judicial District; presented a motion to continue during a status conference hearing in District Court in Walsenburg. The hearing would have been the last scheduled conference prior to the original trial date of October 13, 2015. District Court Judge Claude Appel heard from both Durkin on his motion and arguments in opposition from Colorado State Public Defender Dariel Weaver, who, along with Patrick McCarville have handled Candelario’s defense since his arrest in October 2014. Candelario’s wife, Pamela, was discovered dead of blunt force trauma in the couple’s Walsenburg home in January 2014. After months of investigation by Walsenburg police and the Colorado Bureau of Investigation, an arrest warrant was issued and the defendant was arrested while on vacation in northern California one year ago
(October 7, 2014). He has remained in custody in the Huerfano County Jail in lieu of a $1,000,000 bond since his return from California. In the hearing earlier this week, Durkin argued since the defense was prepared to name one, if not two, alternate suspects to the killing, the prosecution had a right to ask for a continuance. The prosecution had obtained a voluntary DNA sample from one of the two, and have a right to test evidence collected at the crime scene to determine if there was any DNA present, and if so, did it match one of the alternate suspects identified by the defense. In response, the defense maintains that law enforcement should have taken (alternate suspect’s initials) buccal swabs when they interviewed him while he was in the Huerfano County Jail in May 2015. Specifically, the defense argued, it was reasonably foreseeable that (alternate suspect’s initials) would be identified as an alternate suspect and that the prosecution should have taken DNA evidence in May 2015. Further, the defense contendeds the prosecution should have tested the evidence from the Defendant’s house for DNA and fingerprints previously, rather than wait until after obtaining DNA from (alternate suspect’s initials). Weaver, in her response to the prosecution motion to continue the trial said, “the Defendant will be greatly prejudiced by any continuance in this matter because they have witnesses that are transient or who will be released from DOC or parole, and there is a high potential that those witnesses will be lost if the trial is continued.” In his ruling published September 30, Judge Appel said, in part, “the Court finds that the People have made a sufficient record that the DNA analysis for (alternate suspect’s initials) is unavailable and is material to the state’s case. The People argued that the DNA analysis is material for them to litigate the Defendant’s claims that (alternate suspect’s initials) invaded his home and killed his wife.” Judge Appel wrote in his decision on September 29, “In sum, the Court concludes that the prosecution has made a sufficient record that the unavailability of (alternate suspect’s initials) DNA evidence is material to the state’s case, that the prosecuting attorney has exercised due diligence to obtain such evidence, there are reasonable grounds to believe that this evidence will be available at the continued trial date, and the continuance does not violate the Defendant’s statutory or constitutional right to a speedy trial. The Court, having considered the parties’ arguments, and exercising its independent judgement, finds that there is good cause to continue the trail date.” The judge granted the prosecution motion and ordered the jury trial reset for February 22 through March 4, 2016.