ALAMOSA — District Judge Martin Gonzales on Tuesday set a January 2018 trial for Krystal Voss, 43, whose 2004 conviction was vacated and a new trial granted in a decision from Chief District Judge Pattie Swift last week.
Swift had scheduled the matter for Tuesday to set a new trial for Voss who had been serving a 20-year sentence for felony child abuse causing death in connection to her 19-month-old son’s 2003 death. Voss and her defense counsel appeared by phone on Tuesday.
Judge Gonzales scheduled Voss’ new trial for three weeks beginning January 8, 2018. District Attorney Crista Newmyer-Olsen told the judge she believed the trial would take no less than three weeks, given the number of experts anticipated from both sides. The lack of initiative to bring in experts to testify on her behalf during the 2004 trial was one of the main reasons Judge Swift determined that Voss’ trial counsel had been ineffective and she deserved a new trial.
The DA asked for a trial date in January, which would fall within Voss’ right to a speedy trial within six months. Judge Gonzales said the speedy trial time period would end on February 7. He added that he did not have a trial date to devote to this case but would have to move dockets to make room for it.
New defense counsel Jeff Walsh contended there was no probable cause to continue the case because the coroner who performed the initial autopsy in which he had determined the death was a homicide had since changed his mind to call the manner of the child’s death “undetermined.”
Walsh said this case was basically a homicide case, child abuse leading to death, but if the coroner could no longer call it a homicide, he did not see how there could be probable cause.
“I am not going to hear arguments off the cuff like this,” Judge Gonzales said.
He said Walsh could file motions.
Walsh suggested that a status be scheduled in a few weeks to give the DA time to decide what option she might pursue with the case at this point, ranging from trial to dismissal. He asked for a trial in November, December or January, with available trial dates provided to the attorneys so they could see if their expert witnesses were available on any of those dates.
“We have a ton of experts in this case, and they are all from out of state,” Walsh said. “It’s going to be a logistical feat to get everybody in town or on teleconference, whichever it may be.”
Newmyer-Olsen said the analysis of the case at this post-conviction point, 14 years after the original trial, was much different than preparing for trial when a case was fresh.
“The people’s case does not generally get better over time,” she said.
She said there’s missing evidence, so she has to assess the evidence that is left and how viable the evidence and the witnesses would be at this point.
Judge Gonzales scheduled a status hearing for September 8.
Both the defense and prosecution also recommended a $100,000 PR (personal recognizance) bond for Voss. Newmyer-Olsen said she did not have concerns with community safety or Voss not appearing in court, especially given the fact that Voss has been out of prison under supervision for some time already without any issues.
The judge ordered the $100,000 PR bond.