No bond for murder suspect
Co-worker remembers victim as 'outgoing'
Craig — A 70-year-old Craig man accused of murdering his wife and burying her near a gold mine north of Craig will be held without bond for at least another few weeks.
Terry Hankins, who was arrested by the Craig Police Department on Friday, appeared via video Monday in Moffat County Court for his advisement. It was the first time Hankins appeared in court since his arrest.
Public defender Sheryl Uhlmann, who represented Hankins during the hearing, entered her appearance in the case Monday morning and already had filed several motions in the case including one to schedule a bond hearing and one to seal Hankins’ court files from the public. Assistant District Attorney Kerry St. James and Deputy District Attorney Brett Barkey both are prosecuting the case. Fourteenth Judicial District Attorney Bonnie Roesink also was present during the hearing.
Uhlmann and St. James agreed it was too early in the case to set bond, for which Hankins is ineligible until a future bond hearing is set.
District Chief Judge Michael O’Hara scheduled Hankins to appear in court at 1 p.m. Sept. 12 for a status conference. Bond and preliminary hearings likely will be scheduled during that hearing.
Hankins, a gold miner, was arrested on suspicion of first-degree murder, abusing a corpse, tampering with evidence, theft, forgery and possessing more than 1 gram of a controlled substance. Hankins was arrested the day before law enforcement officers uncovered the body of his wife 36-year-old Cynthia Hankins-Runnels about 33 miles north of Craig on a parcel of land Hankins lives and operates on. Hankins-Runnels had been missing since June 3.
Police suspect Hankins-Runnels was slain in Craig and that her body was buried at the site. Though officials had searched the area once, they were unable to locate the body until Saturday. Officials were investigating allegations that Hankins was involved in other criminal activity that related to his wife’s disappearance.
Craig Police Department Chief Walt Vanatta said police had executed around five or six search warrants in the case that included searches of both Hankins’ vehicles and Terry Hankins’ property north of Craig.
If convicted of the first-degree murder charge, Hankins could face up to life in prison or death. On the less severe charges, which range from a Class 3 felony to a Class 2 misdemeanor, Hankins could face from one year in prison to 24 years and up to $500,000 in fines.
During the hearing, Hankins waived his right to have a preliminary hearing within 30 days. He did not address the court expect to say, “Yes, I do understand,” when O’Hara asked Hankins if Hankins understood his rights.
O’Hara also put in place a mandatory restraining order in the case prohibiting Hankins from contacting at least a dozen people, including members of Hankins-Runnels’ family. Hankins also is not allowed to possess a weapon or consume alcohol if he were to make bond before the case is settled.
At the attorney’s request, O’Hara agreed to keep Hankins’ court files, which include details about several search and arrest warrants, sealed to minimize “pre-trial publicity.”
Both Uhlmann and St. James expressed concern about Hankins receiving a fair trial if the documents were to become public.
“My hope and desire is (Hankins) receive a fair trial in our community,” St. James said during the hearing. “The revelation of that information may infringe on that right.”
O’Hara said he was not inclined to put a gag order in place yet. A gag order is intended to limit what is made public during a criminal trial and usually involves participants in the case.
St. James assured the court that the DA’s Office would not be commenting on the case publicly.
“It has been my practice not discuss cases with the media,” he said. “I will continue to behave in that fashion.”
Uhlmann said newspaper articles regarding the case already had appeared in several regional and Denver newspapers as well as on a law enforcement Web site.
“The risk of pre-publicity is very substantial,” she said. “We want to ensure Mr. Hankins receives his due process and a fair trial.”
Uhlmann was unavailable for further comment Monday.
St. James also said the case is still under investigation, and that there are investigators working on the case outside of Colorado.
There were no other persons present during the 30-minute long hearing besides court personnel and attorneys.
On Monday, Renee McCurry, who worked with Hankins-Runnels at the Craig Motel for about a month, was distraught to hear that Hankins-Runnels was found dead.
“I am crushed,” she said. “This is awful. She didn’t deserve to be murdered.”
McCurry characterized Hankins-Runnels as “funny and outgoing.”
“She was a good woman, a hard worker,” she said. “She was very friendly. Everyone got along with her.”
Vanatta said the Hankins’ relationship, which began while Hankins-Runnels was serving a prison sentence in Texas, was “turbulent.”
McCurry said she had only met Terry Hankins twice, but that she knew the couple had problems.
“I don’t know what he was all about, but I know that he wanted to know where she was 24/7,” she said. “I ain’t lying about that.”
McCurry became suspicious Hankins-Runnels was missing after she quit stopping by the Craig Motel for visits. Hankins-Runnels apparently had quit working at the motel to work as a construction flagger, McCurry said.
“She’d stop by every other day or so and say hi, then she just stopped, and then one day I began wondering, ‘Where is Cynthia?” she said.
Police said Hankins-Runnels was reported missing around June 3 by a family member.
Moffat County Coroner Owen Grant said Hankins-Runnels’ autopsy is scheduled for Wednesday. Her body likely will be sent to Fort Worth, Texas, where Hankins-Runnels is from and where her family lives.
The Hankins case is the second Craig murder case the 14th Judicial District has handled in the last two years.
In August 2005, the then 17-year-old Craig resident Hugo Antonio Silva-Larios pleaded guilty to reckless manslaughter in the October 2004 shooting death of James Calvin Pogline, 32.
Silva-Larios, who was 16 at the time of the shooting, originally was charged with second-degree murder. He was sentenced to serve five years in prison and was deported to Mexico.
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