Security tight at trial for shooting
Two metal detectors worked nonstop Monday morning at the Moffat County Courthouse as jury selection got under way in the murder trial of Hugo Silva-Larios.
Silva-Larios, a 17-year-old Mexican national, is accused in the shooting death of 32-year-old James Pogline. The heightened security — law enforcement officials said security has never been this tight — was a relief for potential jurors and courthouse employees.
“I think it does make it safer,” said Terresa White, one of the 180 potential jurors in the case, while being scanned.
Besides the scanner, security Monday included three Moffat County sheriff’s deputies outside the courtroom and two deputies inside the court’s district chambers. Law enforcement officials said there would be at least one deputy outside the courtroom and two inside for the remainder of the trial.
Moffat County court officials often have requested full-time, additional security at the courthouse. But Moffat County commissioners have argued there is reasonable security at the courthouse and that there is not enough funding to hire additional security personnel.
Thus, there is no visible security at the courthouse for most trials and court hearings. In special circumstances, such as the Silva-Larios trial, court officials can request additional security as needed.
Moffat County Commissioner Tom Gray said he thinks there is “reasonable security at the courthouse” and that commissioners are willing to solve issues so that there’s not a court order.
“We want to work together,” he said.
Clerk of Court Diana Meyer said she felt a little safer Monday with the temporary installation of two metal detectors. Moffat County Sheriff’s Office has two life-sized metal detectors donated from Yampa Valley Regional Airport.
It would require additional staffing of one full-time person and one half-time person to man the metal detectors permanently, said Undersheriff Jerry Hoberg.
“It doesn’t make a difference to me, but if you took a poll about whether there should be security here, I’ll bet a lot of them would want it,” he said.
Hoberg said that there’s always the potential for violence at the courthouse, but security was called in for the trial because of its high profile status.
“It’s an issue,” he said, about the normal lack of security at the courthouse. “Everybody understands that this could be a potentially bad situation, but (hearings) happen every day. It doesn’t have to be a criminal trial that something bad happens.”
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