Murder codefendant's trial reset

ALAMOSA — District Judge Michael Gonzales on Friday set a new trial for Cristo Esquibel, one of the many defendants charged in connection with the June 2016 death of Dale Floyd McBride, 52.

The trial for Esquibel, 39, charged with felony first-degree assault in connection with McBride’s murder, had initially been scheduled for the week of July 10. However, technical difficulties with his attorney Donald Cutler being able to review recorded interviews in the case forced the postponement of a motions hearing and the July trial.

Cutler told Judge Gonzales on Friday that he had subsequently been able to access the discovery provided from the district attorney’s office and this week had received further discovery, which he still needed to view. He said among the previous discovery was a video segment of an interview with Lonnie Cooper (who pleaded guilty this week to second-degree murder for McBride’s death), but there was no audio. Cutler said he understood there was no audio on anybody’s copy of that interview, however.

Cutler said he appreciated the Alamosa County Sheriff’s Office transferring Esquibel to the Chaffee County Jail, which made it easier for him to confer with his client and for them to review the discovery together.

Cutler requested a new motions hearing and trial date for Esquibel. He said he would withdraw his motion to exclude the evidence he had been unable to access, since he has now been able to review it. However, there are still outstanding motions including motions to suppress and limit evidence.

Judge Gonzales scheduled the motions hearing for the afternoon of October 23.

The judge asked if there were negotiations underway in this case, especially since other related cases were in negotiation.

“We are at a standstill at any agreement,” Cutler said. He said Assistant District Attorney Ashley McCuaig had reached his bottom line, and Esquibel had reached his bottom line, and it did not appear there would be an agreement short of trial.

Judge Gonzales scheduled a new trial for Esquibel the week of January 8, 2018, which is beyond the speedy trial time period entitled to Esquibel, who had already had to waive that right once because of the earlier trial delay. Gonzales said Esquibel’s new speedy trial period would end December 29. He offered the week of November 11, which had been set aside for Lonnie Cooper but is no longer needed for his case. Cutler had another trial scheduled for that week, however, so the judge had to go into 2018 for the next available date.

Through his attorney, Esquibel said he would prefer a date before 2018. However, no other time was available for all parties, so Cutler said his client would accept that January date.

Esquibel, who remains in custody, has other unrelated cases awaiting sentencing, which will occur after this case is resolved.

Another codefendant in the McBride case, Shannon Cooper, Lonnie’s wife, was also in court this week, but her case was continued until August 8 because her attorney was unable to be present for her status hearing on Thursday. He participated by phone from Denver and said he would definitely be present in Alamosa on August 8.

As part of Lonnie Cooper’s plea agreement his wife’s case was to be dismissed, but those details had not yet been worked out on Thursday. Lonnie Cooper entered his plea on Wednesday. Shannon Cooper remains in custody.

Judge Gonzales said he expected the attorneys to have met and worked something out in Shannon Cooper’s case before the August 8 court date.