On Tuesday, Aug. 28, court proceedings in the case of Isaac Robin-McCain Grimes were once again delayed. Grimes, a 16-year-old former Palmer High School student, is charged along with three other Springs teenagers in the New Years Eve murders of Carl and Joanna Dutcher of Guffey, and their 15-year-old grandson Anthony Dutcher.
Since his arrest on March 7, Grimes has been held in the Park County Jail. His family dismissed the first defense attorney assigned to the case, Springs lawyer Shaun Kaufman, and Grimes' arraignment scheduled for last month was delayed because new attorneys Kent Gray and J.B. Katz, needed more time to review the case. Court proceedings were further delayed in June, following the May 29 fire bombing of the Park County Courthouse. Police have determined that the fire was intentionally set, but have named no suspects.
This week, Gray asked Park County District Judge Kenneth Plotz for another delay, citing the need for more testing on his client by an unnamed expert from Denver before a plea can be entered.
Gray did not indicate the nature of the testing being done on Grimes, but in the past two months, Rev. Promise Lee of Colorado Springs, spiritual counselor of the Grimes family, has repeatedly referred to Isaac Grimes as a victim of "brainwash and mind control."
Operations and Reconaissance Agents
Grimes' confession in early March led police to the arrests of his co-defendants Simon Sue, 19, Jonathan Matheny, 17, and Glen Urban, 18. According to Grimes' account given to Park County investigators upon his arrest, the boys were members of a paramilitary group called OARA (Operations and Reconaissance Agents), headed by Sue. The group stole weapons that were allegedly being stockpiled in support of the People's Progressive Party, the ruling party of Guyana. Sue's parents are from Guyana and came to the United States shortly after his birth. Investigators have uncovered no evidence at this time of contacts in Guyana or ties to the Guyanese government.
Matheny and Sue are also being held in the Park County Jail. Matheny's trial is set to begin in early December, and Sue's preliminary hearing will be held on Sept. 4. Urban, who admitted to cutting up the murder weapons under Sue's orders, has struck a plea bargain with prosecutors in which he plead guilty of being an accomplice in exchange for testimony against the three other defendants. A sentencing hearing for Urban is scheduled for Oct. 9.
Crimes of the heart
Grimes, who was 15 at the time the murder occurred, is being tried as an adult, a decision made in Colorado by the district attorney with no judicial review. Nationally, a debate over the trial and incarceration of juveniles as adults is ongoing at the same time that the number of juveniles tried as adults is sharply on the rise.
Locally, Lee and another minister have urged that Grimes be tried as a juvenile, in spite of the severity of the crimes for which he is accused.
Rev. Dr. Keith L. Hedstrom of Ascension Lutheran Church has known Isaac Grimes since he was three years old and recently sent a letter on his behalf to District Attorney Rogers.
"I have some issues with the process of determining whether or not a juvenile is abjudicated as an adult," said Hedstrom. "At present, it's up to one individual, the prosecutor. I have a problem with the person doing the investigating making that kind of decision.
"[Isaac] is stuck in a county jail with no access to education, to counseling or any of the things that would be available to him if he were incarcerated as a juvenile."
Hedstrom, who worked in the juvenile justice system in Minnesota, says that age and cognitive ability should be considered in the evaluation of all crimes. "These kids are not thinking as adults," he said.
In his letter, Hedstrom referred to Grimes as "intelligent, compassionate and [possessing] a willing nature to do good," then added, "... unfortunately, these are the very traits in an adolescent child that can be manipulated and twisted for evil intent.
"[Isaac] is a kid who got caught up in something evil and sinister and did not have the maturity or the wisdom to find a way out," he said.
Both Hedstrom and Lee have expressed concern that adults believed to be closely involved with Simon Sue's OARA have not been held responsible for their part in the group's activities. In his letter, Hedstrom indicates that Grimes was "methodically manipulated" by adults and older teens. Police records show that a search of a house at 323 E. Caramillo St., owned by Sue's father, Keith Sue, yielded a large cache of weapons including guns that were stolen from the Dutcher home the night of the murder. And testimony given by CBI agent Michael Sadar on July 23 in Park County Court indicated that following the murder, Jonathan Matheny requested new tires for his car, fearing that tracks were left on the dirt road in Guffey. Sadar said interrogations of Sue and Grimes alleged that Simon Sue and his father changed Matheny's tires and destroyed the others.
"I think there needs to be more investigation into the circumstances of the case, into what got [Isaac Grimes] into the crime in the first place," said Lee. A local minister, Lee was convicted as a teen of second-degree murder in the killing of a Fort Carson soldier. "I think an investigation would show that there are adults involved whose influence was crucial in getting him into this predicament.
"I'm not saying there shouldn't be any consequences," added Lee. "I believe that for every behavior there must be a consequence. But we should ask ourselves what the consequences will be and whether they serve any purpose. Will being tried and incarcerated as an adult bring [Grimes] closer to humanity or farther away from humanity.?
"We need to look at this thing more broadly. We need to understand that one day this is someone else's kid; the next day it could be yours."
Isaac Grimes' arraignment hearing is set for Sept. 25.