ALAMOSA — Citing a lack of resources and evidence deteriorated with time, 12th Judicial District Attorney Crista Newmyer-Olsen asked District Judge Martin Gonzales to dismiss the 2003 child death case against Krystal Voss, 43.
Judge Gonzales dismissed the case on Friday.
Earlier this summer Chief District Judge Pattie Swift had granted a new trial for Voss, who had been convicted by a jury in November 2004 of felony child abuse resulting in death in connection with her son Kyran’s 2003 death. Judge Gonzales had scheduled the new trial for January 2018.
Voss had been serving a 20-year sentence in the case, which had alleged that she was responsible for the traumatic head injuries that resulted in her 19-month-old son’s death. She had been scheduled for a parole hearing in May of 2018, with her mandatory release date July 14, 2020.
Kyran Voss was admitted to the Alamosa hospital on January 31, 2003, with a head injury that Krystal Voss and her friend Patrick Ramirez initially said was caused by Kyran falling off Ramirez’s shoulders while the child was in his care. Kyran died a few months later on March 24, 2003. Ramirez later changed his story to place the blame for the injuries on Voss.
Voss’ attorneys during her initial trial argued that Ramirez was to blame, and expert witnesses during appellate hearings before Judge Swift in late 2015 and early 2016 argued that the child’s fatal injuries could have been deemed accidental rather than intentional.
Last month Judge Swift granted a new trial for Voss on the basis that her initial trial counsel did not adequately explore the defense argument that the child’s fall off Ramirez’s shoulders could have resulted in his death.
In her September 7 motion asking the judge to dismiss the case, Newmyer-Olsen referred to the delay between the two trials and the lack of resources in her office in coming to the decision to seek dismissal.
“While many of the physicians who treated the child victim in this case remember the child and his injuries very clearly, some of the medical records no longer exists,” Newmyer-Olsen stated. “The quality and quantity of evidence tends to erode over time in most cases.” Since the prosecution carries the burden of proving the case, deteriorated or unavailable evidence would weaken the case, Newmyer-Olsen explained in her motion.
In addition, Newmyer-Olsen stated that her office was “grossly understaffed, with each attorney carrying a caseload that is at least double — some triple — the generally advisable caseload for a prosecutor.”
The DA stated that her office would already be dealing with two homicide trials and two sexual assault trials at the same time as the re-trial date in the Voss case, with two more sex assault cases and another first-degree murder case set for trial on the heels of this one. With four prosecutors in the office, including the DA herself, who are capable of handling cases of this magnitude, it did not seem feasible to pursue this case, Newmyer-Olsen explained in her motion to dismiss.
“In order to pursue prosecution, the unique circumstances and procedural posture of this particular case, given the 15-year delay and the resulting deterioration in the quality of the evidence, coupled with the relatively quick trial turnaround, would require resources not available to the Office of the District Attorney at this time,” Newmyer-Olsen stated.
To prepare for this trial alone, the DA would need to assign at least one prosecutor full time to this case between now and January, Newmyer-Olsen added, something her office could not do.
Newmyer-Olsen also pointed out that the only benefit to pursuing the trial would be to convict Voss, who has already served a lengthy sentence, and there would be no guarantee that the work required to prepare for a new trial at this point would lead to a second conviction.
The DA added that while the Victim’s Rights Amendment requires the victim in a case to be consulted and apprised of developments in a case, this case no longer has a victim, since Voss’ child died in 2003.
“After full evaluation of the case, the possible outcomes, and the limited resources of the Office of the District Attorney, and the unique challenge presented by the procedural posture of this case, the People assert that it is necessary that this case be dismissed,” Newmyer-Olsen concluded in her motion.
Judge Gonzales had scheduled a status hearing on Friday. Voss’ new defense attorneys and Voss were present via telephone for the hearing and obviously had no objection to the judge granting the DA’s motion to dismiss the case.
“I will sign off on the order. The case is dismissed,” Judge Gonzales said.
“Thank you so much,” Voss said.
The judge concluded, “Have a great day, great life, one and all.”