Bond motion from habitual offender denied


Judge Michael O'Hara Tuesday denied Stephen Skufca's request to be freed as his case is appealed.

"This court notes that this is not the first request for bail pending appeal (a previous motion having been denied by the trial judge), and the Defendant filed several motions to reduce bail while trial was pending, all of which were denied," O'Hara wrote in his June 3 denial of Skufca's motion.

The judge April 28 said his ruling would reflect Skufca's chances for success before the Colorado Court of Appeals later this year. O'Hara, in his June 3 order, assessed the prospects as "very low."

"Overall, this court finds that the factors supporting an appeal bond are substantially outweighed by the factors opposing an appeal bond."

Skufca, a 42-year-old former Craig resident, was sentenced last September by former Judge Richard Doucette to 12 years in state prison. The judge last June also ruled Skufca to be a habitual criminal under Colorado statute, which came after Skufca's Nov. 21, 2001 conviction on charges of possession of controlled substance, possession of marijuana between one and eight ounces, possession of drug paraphernalia and introduction of contraband.

The convictions were the basis for the habitual criminal designation.

Among other issues before Colorado's appeals court, Skufca's public defenders are expected to argue that a jury, not Doucette, should have determined the habitual criminal status.

The District Attorney's office has filed its own appeal challenging Doucette's 12-year sentence for Skufca during September's hearing.

The appeal argues that Doucette had no basis from deviating from the state's statutorial habitual offender sentencing scheme, which was a 24-year term in Skufca's case.

Paul Shockley can be reached at 824-7031 or at

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