Supreme Court reverses judge's ruling

Confessions back in play in Moffat County murder case

The Colorado Supreme Court overruled a Moffat County District Court judge's rulings in a pending murder case, according to a decision published Monday.

Terry Hankins, a Craig man in his 70s, is being held in Moffat County Jail. He is charged with first-degree murder and abuse of a corpse in connection with the June 2007 death of his wife, 34-year-old Cynthia Hankins, also of Craig.

He has pleaded not guilty to the charges.

During an investigation into her disappearance, Hankins made three statements to investigators in which he confessed to killing and dismembering his wife.

In a September motions hearing setting up Hankins' jury trial, Judge Michael O'Hara ruled that the statements Hankins made to investigators be suppressed because of a Miranda violation.

The Supreme Court's ruling Monday, however, disagreed with O'Hara.

"Hankins invited investigators to his home, voluntarily led them to where he had buried his wife after killing her, and confessed to the murder," the Supreme Court wrote in its opinion. "Following this initial confession, Hankins gave three more statements to police after receiving proper Miranda advisements.

"The Supreme Court reverses the suppression order, holding that Hankins was not in custody when he made the initial confession and the trial court should not have suppressed any of his statements."

The 14th Judicial District Attorney's Office, which appealed O'Hara's ruling shortly after the motions hearing ended, had no comment on the Supreme Court's ruling, when reached Monday evening.

A statement, a deputy district attorney said, could be released today.

O'Hara cited publicity of the suppressed statements as the basis for moving the Hankins trial from Moffat County District Court to Routt County, saying public knowledge of the statements were possibly enough to interfere with the defendant's right to a fair trial.

It is unknown whether the Supreme Court's ruling will alter the judge's decision on trial venue.

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

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