Plea deal or trial? Decision likely soon

Courtesy photo JAMES MARSHALL

ALAMOSA ‑ There was no announcement of a plea deal on Friday when James Marshall, accused of shooting Danny Von Pruitt on June 4, 2020, appeared (virtually) in court along with his defense attorney, Randy Canney, and both Deputy District Attorney Alex Raines and DA Alonzo Payne, prosecuting for the state. This is at least the second time that more concrete advancement of the case has been postponed while both sides continue to explore a resolution.

However, it’s doubtful that “third time’s a charm” in this situation, as Judge Martinez indicated he expects counsel to conclude their discussions before the next time Marshall appears in court.

Randy Canney confirmed as much when asked after Friday’s proceeding, which lasted less than five minutes. “The next court date will either be a re-setting for trial or the possibility of a resolution,” he said. When asked which he thinks is more likely, Canney refused to speculate, only commenting on how difficult the case is “for everyone involved.”

DA Payne was not much more forthcoming but was willing to confirm that a meeting between the DA’s office and the victim has been scheduled. Beyond that, Payne declined to provide any further details out of respect for Mr. Pruitt and what he has endured.  “He’s been through a lot,” Payne said.

In 1992, Colorado voters passed the Victim Rights Act, a constitutional amendment that protects the rights of crime victims, including the right to be informed of critical stages in the judicial process.

The shooting, which occurred at a time when the nation was in turmoil following the killing of George Floyd, received brief but nationwide attention and was viewed as controversial, even in Alamosa.

On June 4, 2020, James Marshall – a defense attorney and resident of Alamosa at the time – and his wife, Mariah Loraine, were among a group of about a dozen people who had assembled at the intersection of State and Main to protest the killing of George Floyd. Throughout the hour-long protest, the protesters stood in the intersection when the traffic light was red and stepped back on the curb and out of the path of traffic when the traffic light turned green.

Footage from a video camera located within the Narrow Gauge Bookstore located on the corner shows a black Dodge ram pickup truck, driven by Pruitt, pulling up to the traffic light, which was red, and coming to a stop but then briefly accelerating toward a group of protesters, including Marshall’s wife, who were standing in the intersection.

Footage then shows Marshall pulling a handgun from his waistband and presumably shooting Pruitt in the head.

Marshall later told police that he “observed the truck come into contact with his wife” and feared for her safety. The detective, who completed the report on the incident, stated that he “told Marshall the video does not show his wife as he explained and [Marshall] responded that the video was wrong.”

As a result of the shooting, Danny Von Pruitt was in a coma for several weeks before regaining consciousness. Since then, he has declined to speak publicly about the incident, requesting to be left alone to raise his daughter.

On June 16, 2020, Marshall was formally charged with attempted 2nd-degree murder, 1st-degree assault, reckless endangerment, felony menacing, criminal mischief, illegal discharge of a firearm and prohibited use of a weapon.

His next appearance in court is scheduled for May 10. The proceedings are slated to be in person.

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