Hotz murder case continued

ALAMOSA—Saying he understood how victims could be frustrated with how slowly the court process moves, District Judge Michael Gonzales on Tuesday continued “one last time” the first appearance in district court for Perry Hotz, 20, charged with the death of his 5 1/2-month-old daughter in October.

The judge said although he understood that the delays are frustrating for family members, he wanted to give the attorneys adequate time to prepare for their case. Hotz’s case had originally been forwarded to the district court following a preliminary hearing in Alamosa County Court in December.

Hotz is represented by two new attorneys who asked the judge on Tuesday for another 60-90 days before entering a plea. They said they received the autopsy report and had information they wanted to follow up on.

District Attorney Crista Newmyer-Olsen did not object to the continuance. She said while there is some frustration on the part of the victim for the delays, the victim was not objecting to a continuance.

“I understand for people not familiar with the court system how it can be frustrating,” Judge Gonzales said. “I apologize to you for that.”

Judge Gonzales continued Hotz’s first appearance “one last time,” he said, until June 20 when he will accept a denial or some other plea.

Hotz is charged with first-degree murder in the death of his daughter who died a few days after suffering head trauma injuries the morning of October 8 at the family’s mobile home in Hooper. Hotz attributed his daughter’s injuries to a fall from a bouncy chair 2-3 feet onto the carpet after her foot got tangled in the chair and she slipped and fell as he was lifting her out of the chair.

During the December preliminary hearing in county court, Dr. Desmond Runyan, a certified pediatrician who is executive director of the Kempe Center that specializes in child abuse treatment, testified that the injuries he observed did not fit with Hotz’s account. He testified that in his 35 years of practice these were the most troubling injuries he had seen. The child suffered a skull fracture, brain swelling and brain hemorrhaging. According to Dr. Runyan, by the morning of October 9 the child was brain dead and motionless except for a ventilator giving her breaths. She was officially pronounced deceased on October 11, 2016.