Cynthia Hankins and Terry Hankins

Cynthia Hankins and Terry Hankins

'Not guilty'

Murder suspect enters plea during Tuesday arraignment

At a glance

• Terry Hankins charged with first-degree murder in connection with wife Cynthia Hankins' death.

• Hankins' public defender enters not guilty plea at Tuesday arraignment.

• Trial scheduled to begin Dec. 1.

• Ten days set aside to argue case.

— After a series of delays, a Craig man accused of murdering his wife has pleaded not guilty and is scheduled for a jury trial at the end of the year.

Terry Hankins, a gold miner being held at the Moffat County Jail, faces nine total charges, including a sole count of first-degree murder in connection with the death of his wife, Cynthia Hankins, also of Craig.

Hankins appeared Tuesday morning in Moffat County District Court with his attorney, public defender Sheryl Uhlmann, who entered the not guilty plea on his behalf. He also waived his right to trial within six months of the arraignment.

Michael O'Hara, 14th Judicial District chief judge, scheduled the trial to begin Dec. 1.

Prosecutors allege Hankins murdered his wife in June 2007 and then buried her body on his gold claim south of the Wyoming border in Moffat County. He has been in custody since August 2007.

The defense has countered that Hankins was a routine victim of domestic violence at the hands of his wife and acted in self defense.

Kerry St. James, assistant district attorney, told O'Hara he believed the trial could be finished in a week. Uhlmann said she believed two weeks would be needed.

O'Hara set aside 10 days.

The defense has broached the idea at previous appearances that Hankins suffered from battered spouse syndrome, a psychological syndrome, leading him to fear his wife. Uhlmann said she plans to file a motion next week challenging the constitutionality of mental health statutes "as they apply to Mr. Hankins."

The judge delayed ordering a mental health evaluation of Hankins until the motion is decided.

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.

Tuesday's hearing was a continuance from the original arraignment date in January.

The Hankins death is believed to be the first murder in Craig since October 2004 when 32-year-old James Pogline was shot and killed at an apartment complex.

Hugo Silva-Larios was originally charged with second-degree murder, but pleaded guilty to manslaughter. He was sentenced to five years in prison and will be deported to Mexico once his time is served.

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