A Longmont murder trial has been pushed back to October after the Colorado Supreme Court extended its order halting jury trials due to the coronavirus.
Isaiah Rios, 30, is charged with first-degree murder after deliberation and felony murder in the death of Gary Hockaday.
Rios also is charged with first-degree assault, first-degree burglary, second-degree burglary, motor vehicle theft, second-degree trespassing, theft from an at-risk person, criminal mischief, felony menacing, theft and habitual criminal sentence enhancers.
Rios had been set for a two-week trial starting July 20, but Colorado Supreme Court Justice Nathan Coats issued an order Monday extending his ban on jury trials from July 6 to Aug. 1.
But even before the Colorado Supreme Court ruling, defense attorney Lovel Tokic had filed a motion on June 5 asking for a new trial date, renewing concerns defense attorneys had brought up at prior hearings.
In the motion, Tokic noted that the length and nature of the case meant bringing in at least 100 potential jurors.
“Simply put, the court, given this unprecedented global health crisis, is unable to balance a fair trial for Mr. Rios with the legitimate safety concerns of prospective jurors, court staff, sheriff’s deputies, attorneys and the public,” Tokic wrote.
Tokic also wrote that a willing jury picked during a pandemic would not be a representative one, as the coronavirus has had a larger impact on minorities and those facing economic hardships.
“These groups of people would be underrepresented in the pool of potential jurors,” Tokic wrote.
Boulder Chief Trial Deputy District Attorney Adrian Van Nice objected to the continuance, citing concerns about the effect of a delay on witnesses and the victim’s family. She also noted Colorado has begun reopening other aspects of the state, including many nonessential services.
“Surely if we are at a point where our jurors can attend puppy training classes, have their eyebrows and lashes done, and get a tattoo then we are surely at a place where we can return to the important business of jury trials,” Van Nice wrote.
While the extension of the order had only been discussed at the date she wrote her objection, Van Nice noted that the district could apply for an exception to the state order if one went into effect, as El Paso County has done.
But Boulder District Judge Andrew Hartman at a hearing Tuesday granted the motion and gave Rios a new trial date of Oct. 12.
Rios will remain in custody at the Boulder County Jail without bond while he awaits trial.
Police found Hockaday, 80, dead in his home in the 2200 block of Jewel Street in Longmont on July 18 after his wife came home and found the home ransacked and their truck gone. An autopsy found that Hockaday had been stabbed 56 times.
After the body was found, police were called by witnesses who reported suspicious activity at a storage facility at 12121 Sugar Mill Road, about a 15-minute drive away. Police found Rios hiding in one of the storage units, and also found Hockaday’s truck on scene filled with items from the Hockaday home.
Police said Rios had been tied to a string of assaults, threats and break-ins in the days and hours prior to the killing.