Hearing pushed to next week

Court to resume testimony, evidence in murder case Tuesday, Wednesday

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Story at a glance

• More time allocated to motions hearing in Moffat County District Court murder case.

• Terry Hankins, 71, charged with first-degree murder in connection with death of his wife, 36-year-old Cynthia Hankins.

• Hankins' defense requesting suppression of evidence, testimony and new trial venue; prosecution has opposed the requests.

• Motions hearing centers on interview recordings between Hankins and investigators.

• Hankins says wife's murder was self-defense

Five days of witnesses and hours of recordings wasn't enough for a motions hearing to conclude as scheduled Friday afternoon in Moffat County District Court.

Terry Hankins, 71, of Craig, is charged with first-degree murder in connection with the June 2007 death of his wife, 36-year-old Cynthia Hankins, also of Craig. He has pleaded not guilty.

The motions hearing sets the stage for what evidence and statements will be admitted at Hankins' jury trial, scheduled to begin Dec. 1 in District Court. However, the court has yet to rule on any of the 40-some motions under consideration.

Hankins' defense team - public defenders Trevor McFee and Sheryl Uhlmann - has filed motions requesting the court suppress statements, evidence and change trial venues.

Carl Stahl, chief deputy district attorney in the 14th Judicial District, and Jeremy Snow, deputy district attorney, have opposed the motions.

Each side will call at least one more witness to testify in the motions hearing.

Michael O'Hara, chief judge of the 14th Judicial District, expressed concern earlier in the week that the motions hearing wouldn't finish Friday, as planned. That concern materialized Friday evening when he set aside another day-and-a-half next week for the hearing to continue.

The motions hearing resumes at 8:30 a.m. Tuesday and Wednesday in District Court.

Prosecutors allege Hankins killed his wife June 3, 2007, at their Breeze Street apartment in Craig, and then he transported her remains to his mining claim about 23 miles north of town.

He has said he killed Cynthia Hankins in self-defense.

Testimony continued Friday morning with Detective Jen Kenney, a Craig Police Department officer and one of the murder investigation's primary investigators, on the stand and the court watching a video recording of an interview with Hankins in August 2007, shortly before he was taken into custody for his wife's murder.

On the video, Hankins recounted details for investigators of how he killed the woman and actions he took during the next several hours.

Hankins said he and his wife got into an argument about 4 p.m. June 3 while in bed. He said he choked his wife until she passed out and, fearing her actions when she awoke, hit her in the head with a crowbar. He then put a pillow on her face and choked her throat with his hand.

When asked why he didn't leave the apartment or alert authorities while Cynthia Hankins was passed out, Hankins said he didn't think anyone would believe "it was self-defense."

"Smart thing would have been to just get up and leave, I suppose," Hankins said.

After Cynthia Hankins was dead, Hankins spent the next 10 to 12 hours cutting her body up in the apartment bathtub with butcher knives so the body could be more easily moved, he said.

He put the body parts, weapons and his wife's belongings into a hole he'd dug near his mine property, on Bureau of Land Management ground, north of town, near the Wyoming border.

The defense is contesting an August 2007 search warrant that yielded the recovery of the body, after Hankins was interviewed by investigators and showed them where it was located.

O'Hara said the body was found on public land and that a warrant wasn't necessary because Hankins had no expectation of privacy.

"Nobody can have an expectation of privacy on a pile of dirt on public land, including Terrance Hankins," the judge said.

Joshua Roberts can be reached at 875-1791, or jroberts@craigdailypress.com.

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