Skufca drug trial delayed

Craig man will have competency evaluation before case goes to trial

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By RYAN SHERIDAN
Daily Press writer
Judge Richard Doucette granted the defense's motion this week that Steven Skufca, 41, undergo a competency evaluation before going on trial for felony traffic charges.
Doucette then discharged the jury.
Skufca's legal council, Norm Townsend, made the evaluation motion because Townsend noted that Skufca has been hearing voices and having premonitions that cause Townsend to question his competency, according to court documents.
If Skufca is found not competent to stand trial, the case won't proceed until that finding is re-evaluated at some future date, said David Waite, deputy district attorney for the 14th Judicial District.
"If [Skufca] is found incompetent, he will be held at the state mental facility in Pueblo until he becomes competent," Waite said. "He will receive medication if that's appropriate, and counseling to help him deal with whatever is making him incompetent."
Skufca will be transported to Pueblo to undergo the competency evaluation, which could last one or two days, Waite said. The final report based on that evaluation will take six to eight weeks to prepare.
On Nov. 22, Skufca was convicted of possession of a class 2 controlled substance, possession of more than one but less than eight ounces of marijuana, possession of drug paraphernalia, and introducing contraband in the first degree.
The sentencing and related habitual offender hearings for that drug case were delayed until the outcome of this trial.
The sentencing for both trials combined were also delayed, as were the hearings to determine if Skufca could be classified as a habitual offender.
Both cases include habitual offender charges that would quadruple sentencing requirements of all the other charges, if Judge Doucette determines that Skufca qualifies as a habitual offender.
Skufca faces a sentence of up to 13 and a half years from last week's drug conviction, but that term would become a possible 54 years with a habitual offender determination.
Skufca is also under indictment on federal drug trafficking charges, but that trial is not expected to convene until next fall.
A competency finding at the state level would not carry over into the federal cases, said Jeff Dorschner, U.S. Attorney's Office press officer.
"A federal judge would have to decide if a competency hearing was warranted," Dorschner said. "His lawyer on the federal charges would have to make a separate motion."
Skufca is due in district court Jan. 14 for a review hearing, where the judge and attorneys will discuss the status of the case, related hearings and the evaluation, Waite said.

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