Quashed Trial of Former Idaho Politician Charged with 1984 Murder of Colorado Girl | News from USA®

DENVER (Reuters) – Jurors are deadlocked and the trial was declared canceled on Thursday in the kidnapping and murder case against a two-time Idaho gubernatorial candidate charged with the murder in 1984 of a 12-year-old girl from Colorado whose remains were unearthed more than three decades later.

12-member jury found Steven Pankey, 70, guilty on one count of misrepresenting authorities, but failed to reach a unanimous verdict on Jonelle’s kidnapping and murder charges Matthews, which led the judge to dismiss most of the prosecution’s cases, court officials said. .

Weld County Judge Timothy Kerns has set a status hearing for next Monday to address the re-filing of kidnapping and murder charges, in addition to bail and conviction on the false reports account.

The suspended jury, which began its deliberations at noon Tuesday, closed a three-week trial stemming from Matthews’ death.

The girl went missing in December 1984 from her home in Greeley, Colorado, about 80 miles north of Denver, where she was dropped off by a family friend after performing at a Christmas concert.

His disappearance remained a mystery for more than 34 years until 2019, when an excavation crew working on a pipeline in rural Weld County discovered human remains, which were later identified as those of Matthews.

She died of a gunshot wound to the head, authorities said.

Pankey emerged as a person of interest in the cold matter when he periodically inserted himself into the investigation by making “incriminating” statements to various people, police said. He was charged in 2020 and transferred to Colorado.

Prosecutors lacked physical evidence linking Pankey to the murder, but alleged that Pankey, who was living in Greeley at the time of the girl’s disappearance, possessed knowledge of the crime that only the killer would know.

One such information was the killer’s use of a rake to cover up shoe prints left in the snow at the crime scene, according to the indictment.

Pankey said he didn’t kill the girl and said he made up information in order to “be a big man in the business.”

Pankey unsuccessfully ran for governor of Idaho on the Constitution Party ticket in 2014, and lost a second gubernatorial bid in the 2018 Republican primaries.

(Reporting by Keith Coffman in Denver; Writing by Steve Gorman; Editing by Peter Cooney and Daniel Wallis)

Copyright 2021 Thomson Reuters.

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