Motions hearing enters 5th day
Recording describes death, burial
October 3, 2008
An Aug. 24, 2007, interview between investigators and a Craig man suspected of murdering his wife resulted in the recovery of the woman’s dismembered body, according to an audio recording heard Thursday morning in Moffat County District Court.
Terry Hankins, 71, is charged with first-degree murder in connection with the June 2007 death of his wife, 36-year-old Cynthia Hankins, also of Craig.
Attorneys in the case – Hankins’ public defenders Trevor McFee and Sheryl Uhlmann, and prosecutors Carl Stahl and Jeremy Snow – are in the midst of a five-day motions hearing, which began Monday morning.
The motions hearing is attempting to resolve various motions before Hankins’ Dec. 1 trial, including defense motions to suppress statements, evidence and change venue.
Thursday’s hearing began where the previous day left off, with Detective Jen Kenney, a Craig Police Department officer and a primary investigator in the case, on the stand and the court listening to the recorded interview with Hankins. The interview took place at his mining property north of Craig, near Wyoming.
On the recording, investigators told Hankins that they wanted to resolve the case, and they believed he was a good man caught in a bad situation.
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Kenney also told Hankins she’d been in contact with Cynthia Hankins’ mother.
“She said ‘I just want to know where my baby is,'” Kenney recalled Cynthia Hankins’ mother telling her.
Investigators conceded points Hankins was heard making throughout several interviews with authorities – that his late wife was erratic, abusive and emotionally and financially draining.
“Unfortunately, in this case, I think Cynthia took a lot from you,” Kenney told him. She added, “I think you put up with it for a long time.”
But, Kenny and Joe DeAngelo, 14th Judicial District Attorney’s Office investigator, told Hankins during the interview that their primary goal was finding the truth.
“We want the truth; the truth, the good, bad and the ugly, we want the truth,” Kenney said.
Hankins told investigators, according to the audio recording, that he wanted to speak with an attorney before moving forward. However, as investigators were about to leave, Hankins called them back, wanting to discuss a financial allegation made against him.
He and the investigators then talked about his missing wife, which led to Hankins agreeing to show authorities where she was.
Hankins then told investigators what happened between him and his wife June 3, 2007, at their Breeze Street apartment in Craig.
Hankins said the couple was in bed about 4 p.m. and got into an altercation. He said he choked Cynthia Hankins until she passed out, feared retribution when she awoke, and hit her in the head with a crowbar, killing her.
He then spent several hours cleaning up, he told investigators, and cut Cynthia Hankins’ body into pieces in the apartment bathroom. He placed the body parts in garbage bags and moved them to the mine property up north.
“I just cut her up like a deer,” he said on the recording. Later, he described the process as “gruesome” and that he “hated to do it.”
On the recording, Hankins said he buried the body, crowbar, his wife’s clothes, jewelry and “sex appliances” in a hole he dug on the mine property.
Hankins has said the murder was in self-defense.
“I was afraid she was going to revive and kick the s___ out of me,” he said on the recording.
During the Aug. 24, 2007, interview, Hankins said the killing might have been “the best thing” to happen to his wife, whom he described as someone with unpredictable behavior, violent tendencies and drug addictions.
He said the murder affected him.
“All I was thinking about was, ‘God Almighty, that’s the end of it,'” he said on the recording. “For her and probably for me, too.”
Kim Boyce, a nurse at the Northwest Colorado Visiting Nurse Association, testified Thursday morning that she’d seen Hankins for a medical problem, and that he shared information with her about his marriage.
Boyce said Hankins talked about his wife’s marijuana use, verbal abuse and that she had gone untreated for bipolar disorder.
Michael O’Hara, chief judge of the 14th Judicial District, interrupted the presentation of evidence Thursday afternoon, and heard arguments from prosecutors and defense attorneys.
One of the primary issues, the judge said, was whether statements Hankins gave to authorities were voluntary.
“This is a difficult issue, frankly, for the court,” O’Hara said, adding that the burden was on the prosecution to prove the statements were voluntary.
At one point, it appeared O’Hara may have been ready to rule the statements were voluntary and that Hankins’ rights hadn’t been violated.
“Based on everything I’ve heard up to this point, I’m concluding : that I cannot say Terry Hankins’ statements at this point were involuntary,” he said.
However, he agreed to delay the ruling and allow the presentation of evidence to resume today. The motions hearing, which was scheduled to end today, picks back up at 8:30 a.m.
Joshua Roberts can be reached at 875-1791, or email@example.com.