Brian MacKenzie’s jury trial rescheduled for Spring 2021
Jefferson County District Attorney’s office asked for a continuance in the case Tuesday morning, citing the unavailability of witnesses and evidence due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
The trial for former Craig city councilman Brian Paul MacKenzie on three child-related sex crimes was postponed yet again Tuesday and is now set for the spring.
The Jefferson County District Attorney’s office asked for a continuance in the case, citing the unavailability of witnesses and evidence due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
Also, as a result of the public health crisis, the chief judge for Colorado’s 1st Judicial District – which includes Jefferson County – had issued an order Nov. 2 suspending all jury trials until Jan. 18.
During Tuesday’s brief proceeding, during which MacKenzie again waived his right to a speedy trial and was assigned a new trial date of May 17, only the judge, his clerk and a member of the media – each person wearing a mask — were present in the courtroom. All other participants, including MacKenzie, took part via the Webex virtual meeting portal.
MacKenzie was arrested in Littleton, Co., Oct. 11, 2019, after allegedly driving to the Denver area to meet with whom he thought was a 14-year-old girl, “Kylie,” after making a connection through social media.
MacKenzie, instead, had been lured into an undercover sting operation. His conversations leading to the arrest, as documented in an arrest affidavit, had been conducted with an undercover Jefferson County sheriff’s investigator.
Currently free on bond, MacKenzie, 49, is facing felony charges of internet luring of a child with the intent to commit exploitation, internet sexual exploitation of a child, and criminal attempt – sexual assault on a child. The first two charges are both class 4 felonies punishable upon conviction by two-to-six-years in prison; the third charge is a class 5 felony, punishable by one-to-three years in prison.
MacKenzie was elected to the Craig City Council in April 2019. He has maintained he is innocent of the charges.
According to the arrest affidavit, MacKenzie told police he was coming to the Denver area to counsel a young person that she should not be talking to people online, did not think the fictional woman was 14, had not been planning to have sex with such a person and knew that it was a setup.
During Tuesday’s court session, Jefferson County District Judge Christopher Zenisek noted that trials were suspended in that district last month.
“Because we cannot have a fair jury pool, and a fair jury pool cannot be safely assembled in this case because of limitations brought about by the public health crisis, the court declares that it has no option but to declare a mistrial,” Zenisek said.
He then asked MacKenzie if he waived his right to a speedy trial.
“I do. Knowingly and voluntarily,” MacKenzie said.
Pam Russell, spokesperson for the Jefferson County District Attorney’s Office, said the stop-and-start progress of the MacKenzie case is a familiar story for her jurisdiction in 2020.
“This would not be the first time I have seen where the trial was set and the decision was then to go ahead and declare it a mistrial and to reset it, if we could get a speedy trial waiver,” Russell said.
“There are so many components to a trial. There are so many different moving parts. And COVID is so far-reaching. COVID impacts the justice system on so many levels.”
This does not mark the first postponement in the case. It had previously been set for trial Aug. 4, but was reset at that time for December at the request of Public Defender Kelly Schulten due to issues concerning the availability of a defense witness.
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