The 18th Judicial District Attorney’s Office on Sunday moved to withdraw the most serious charges against three protest leaders who were accused of committing crimes while leading demonstrations against police brutality in Aurora last summer.
Prosecutors asked to dismiss the felony charges against the Party of Socialism and Liberation’s Lillian House and Joel Northam, and asked to throw out all but one misdemeanor charge against protest leader Terrance Roberts, the district attorney’s office confirmed in a statement Monday.
The three defendants were among six protest organizers who were arrested after leading demonstrations in Aurora in June and July over the death of Elijah McClain. The six leaders were charged with crimes in both Adams and Arapahoe counties that ranged from attempted kidnapping to theft.
Eighteenth District Attorney John Kellner’s decision to drop the most serious charges in Arapahoe County continues a trend seen as the cases have moved forward in court. In Adams County, a judge last month threw out attempted-kidnapping charges against House, Northam and a third protester, finding no probable cause to support the accusation.
“I do think that John Kellner’s office took a really careful look at the charges and saw that many of the charges filed by his predecessor were completely over-charged,” said Amelia Power, House’s defense attorney. “I think it’s a step in the right direction, but ultimately I still believe this whole prosecution is political.”
House expects to see her charges reduced to four misdemeanor and petty offenses: tampering, petty theft and two counts of obstructing a highway, Powers said. House was originally charged with 19 counts in Arapahoe County, including eight felonies.
In Northam’s case, prosecutors have asked to reduce the 19 charges he faced to seven misdemeanor and petty offenses, including tampering, theft, harassment and obstructing a highway.
In Roberts’ case, he is expected to face one misdemeanor count of obstructing a highway instead of eight misdemeanors.
In a motion to dismiss in one case, Kellner’s office wrote that “the interest of justice would not be further served by continued prosecution” of the leaders. In a statement Monday, a spokeswoman for the office said the changes were requested “after a careful review of the investigation and the available evidence.”
The charges were filed in September by then-District Attorney George Brauchler; Kellner took office in January.
Both Northam and House continue to face felony charges in Adams County.
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