COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — A judge declared a partial mistrial Tuesday after a former Colorado sheriff accused of abusing his power was acquitted of three of seven counts.
Jurors found former El Paso County sheriff Terry Maketa not guilty of witness tampering, conspiracy to commit witness tampering and official misconduct. They deadlocked on four other charges, including felony counts of extortion and conspiracy to commit extortion.
“We’re thrilled it was a victory,” Maketa said after the jury was dismissed, according to The Colorado Springs Gazette https://goo.gl/vvr1rE . On the hung counts, he added that “twelve jurors could not unanimously accept the prosecution’s case, and that’s all I’m going to say.”
The former lawman was accused of trying to undermine the credibility of three deputies and threatening to terminate a $5.3 million contract with the jail’s health provider if it did not fire an employee who refused to support then-Undersheriff Paula Presley’s candidacy to succeed him.
Prosecutors also said Maketa and others coerced a woman involved in a domestic dispute with a deputy to recant her story so the deputy could keep his job.
Maketa, 52, declined to take the stand in his own defense.
Prosecutors said he abused his power during his turbulent third term in office, and he wanted to damage political rivals and destroy the careers of deputies and others who had crossed him.
“These were legitimate allegations that were taken seriously by the people of El Paso County,” Assistant District Attorney Mark Hurlbert said. “We respect the judicial process and appreciate the conscientious work of the jury.”
A court clerk said after the verdict was read that none of the jurors wanted to speak with the media.