Terry Hankins arraignment continued

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— An arraignment hearing for a man charged with murder was continued Wednesday in Moffat County District Court at the defense's request.

Terry Hankins, a gold miner who has been held at Moffat County Jail since Summer 2007, faces nine total charges, including a sole count of first-degree murder. He has yet to enter a plea.

Prosecutors from the 14th Judicial District Attorney's Office contend Hankins murdered his wife, Craig resident Cynthia Hankins and then buried her body on his gold claim south of the Wyoming border in Moffat County last year.

The defense counters that Hankins acted in self-defense.

Hankins appeared in court with his attorney, public defender Sheryl Uhlmann.

According to the court record, Uhlmann requested the continuance so her client could undergo an evaluation within the next two weeks. The record does not specify what type of evaluation Hankins' will undergo.

The public defender has written in at least one motion that Hankins may have suffered from battered spouse syndrome, a psychological condition.

After Hankins has undergone the evaluation, he will then be able to enter a plea, Uhlmann said, according to the court record.

Chief Judge Michael O'Hara, appearing by telephone, granted the continuance. Hankins will appear next at 1 p.m. March 13.

Hankins also is charged with theft, three counts of forgery and possession of a controlled substance, all felonies, and additional misdemeanor counts of theft and abuse of a corpse.

If convicted, he faces a mandatory life sentence with no chance for parole.

Hankins told an investigator that his wife's death followed an altercation at the couple's Craig apartment.

On an audio recording, he is heard telling the investigator that he choked his wife for two to five minutes until she passed out, then got a crowbar from another room and hit her in the head.

Uhlmann has said her client was routinely in danger and feared for his life. Prosecutors contend the killing was not justified.

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