A man charged in the attempted murder of a police officer in Douglas County did not appear in court for a crucial hearing, because he is now being held by a judge presiding over a separate case in another county.
David Vasquez, 24, of Federal Heights, was expected to appear in Douglas County Court June 26 for a preliminary hearing alongside alleged co-conspirator Clifford “CJ” Galley. The two men are accused of leading authorities on a high-speed chase from Castle Rock to Parker in February. Investigators say Galley, the driver, rammed police vehicles and fired several shots at pursuing officers after they attempted to arrest him on a warrant for assaulting an officer.
Vasquez, who was transported to Adams County in June for a hearing in a separate case, was ordered held by Judge Vincent Phelps. When his public defender, Tina Tussay, realized on June 25 that Vasquez was not in his Douglas County jail cell, she alerted County Court Judge Susanna Meissner-Cutler and prosecutors in the case.
Jay Williford, deputy district attorney for the 18th Judicial District, said there is no reason why Vasquez should be held in the other case because he is Douglas County’s prisoner and has been held in the county jail since his February arrest. He was transported to Adams County on a writ, which is standard procedure for prisoners who have pending cases in other jurisdictions. It was not clear at press time what charge Vasquez faced in Adams County.
Meissner-Cutler ordered Douglas County Sheriff’s Office deputies to retrieve Vasquez from the Adams County jail on the afternoon of June 25, after it was discovered that there were no plans to return him for the June 26 Douglas County preliminary hearing, in which much of the testimony was expected to surround Vasquez’s alleged involvement in the police pursuit. But the deputies were turned away by Adams County, prompting Meissner-Cutler to request help from her chief judge, who she said would not act on her behalf.
Meissner-Cutler said the “inconvenience” was “quite astonishing” and she has never heard of a prisoner not being returned. Williford pointed out that it is typical for Adams County to retrieve and return a prisoner within the same day of the hearing.
Meissner-Cutler said she could not imagine that Phelps would order Vasquez held in Adams County if the judge was aware of the more serious allegations involved in the Douglas County case. Vasquez faces three counts of attempted first-degree murder, three counts of first-degree aggravated motor vehicle theft, vehicular eluding, two counts of possession of a weapon by a previous offender, two counts of violation of bail bonds and theft by receiving.
Meissner-Cutler reviewed the minutes of his last hearing in Adams County and said she does not see where Phelps ordered Vasquez held.
Galley is scheduled to appear in Adams County court next month, and Williford and Meissner-Cutler both voiced their concern that he would also not be returned. Galley, 23, spoke up during the June 26 hearing and said he does not want to be held in Adams County either. Meissner-Cutler suggested withholding Galley, but later said it would be unfair to “play ball” like Adams County.
Meissner-Cutler said if Adams County is unwilling to release Vasquez to the custody of other courts, then he will miss three upcoming hearings in other jurisdictions.
Vasquez has two active cases in Adams County, and one each in Broomfield County, Jefferson County and Douglas County.
The preliminary hearing was rescheduled for 9 a.m. July 24 at the Robert A. Christensen Justice Center in Castle Rock.