Judge denies bond for convicted criminal

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Convicted criminal Stephen Skufca and his mother testified in his defense Wednesday morning during a bond hearing in Steamboat Springs District Court.
But Judge Richard P. Doucette was not swayed and denied the Craig resident's bond on a Sept. 21 arrest for a felony traffic incident.
Prior to a Monday hearing in which Skufca was found to be a habitual offender stemming from two felony convictions in the early 1980s and one in the early 1990s, Skufca's $60,000 bond had been posted by family friend and longtime Yampa Valley resident John Eilts.
But because he was found to be a habitual offender Monday in Moffat County Court, a hearing was scheduled to set a new bond Wednesday morning in Routt County, at which time bond was denied.
Doucette splits his judicial duties between Craig and Steamboat Springs based on the area's judicial district.
"This court does not typically set bond in these situations," Doucette said.
Skufca's mother, Ruth Skufca, offered character testimony Wednesday on behalf of her son.
"I feel Steve is a good person," she said on the stand. "He has a heart of gold. You can ask anybody who knows him."
Through tears she said her son is not a bad person, but is a person who has made mistakes as a result of a drug problem.
"He is a sweet, loving person," she said. "That's why it is so hard for me right now to see a person that has so much to give go through this. I would give my own life to help him."
She said her son's former employer in Routt County said he was one of the hardest workers he had ever had.
District Attorney Paul McLimans then asked why Skufca was unemployed at the time of his last arrest.
"He has a drug problem and didn't show up for work," Ruth Skufca answered.
Ruth Skufca said she guaranteed the family would monitor Stephen Skufca if he were released on bail.
But McLimans questioned her promise.
"You indicated you would do what you could to help him but at the time he was arrested he was living with you," he said.
McLimans also said Skufca was arrested while in possession of drugs once when leaving court-ordered counseling for anger management.
When Skufca took the stand, he was asked what he would do if he were released on bail.
"I plan to spend time with my family," he said. "I love them dearly and we've lost a lot of people that we love in the last year. I haven't gone through the process of grieving. I really need to spend time with my family to do that."
Skufca's brother, Brad Skufca, was recently killed in a construction accident while working at the Pentagon in Washington D.C.
But Doucette cited the fact that Skufca is a three-time prior felon and has been found to be a habitual offender, plus has federal charges still pending.
"Court will not set a bond on this matter," he said.
After the decision was passed down to deny bond, Skufca's father, Joe Skufca, questioned the decision.
"I don't understand this at all," he said. "I don't understand the hate in here. This is my son's life."
Skufca will face a jury trial July 23 for the case pending from the Sept. 21 arrest.

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