In 1991 I was a Deputy District Attorney for the Sixth Judicial District of Colorado. In that capacity I prosecuted a 28-year old man named David Patrick Hashman. I prosecuted Hashman for the most heinous crime with which I have ever been personally connected. I had nightmares about the case then; for the last two months I have had to re-live the experience.

     On a cold winter evening in 1991, David Patrick Hashman and his new-found friend, Brent David Cox, were hanging out drinking beer in Curly’s Bar in Pagosa Springs, Colorado. Cox is a practicing homosexual. Hashman is straight.

     Inside the bar Hashman developed an interest in Debra Thackery, a single mom who had just dropped her five year old son, Salem, off at the babysitter’s. Debbie was trying to relax, unwind and have a good time after a long week at work. Hashman had other plans for her evening.

     When Hashman saw Debbie go out the back door of Curly’s he immediately flew out of the bar and got into his pickup. Brent David Cox followed David Patrick Hashman. Cox was in love with Hashman and was hoping Hashman was conflicted about his sexual orientation.

     The two men approached Debbie in the alley as she was going from Curly’s Bar to the Pagosa Bar. Hashman told Cox to get out and invite Debbie to “come party with us.” When Debbie refused to get into an unknown truck with strangers Cox tried to get back into the truck and leave. Hashman had other plans for the evening. Hashman also had a gun.

     Flashing the rifle Hashman ordered Debbie (and Cox, or so he testified at trial) to get into the truck. Debbie was being kidnapped–a Class 3 felony. She was being kidnapped at gunpoint–a Class 2 felony. She was being kidnapped for the purpose of a sexual assault–a crime of violence.

     Thus began a series of inhuman acts of cruelty committed by both men the details of which I will not go into. The nighmare ended with Debbie being abandoned on the highway, barely clad in sub-freezing temperatures, and traumatized beyond description.

     We later learned through forced testing that Cox was HIV positive. Could the facts get any worse for Debbie?

     David Patrick Hashman was no stranger to kidnapping and sexual assault. He had been convicted of a similar incident as a juvenile. He also had been convicted of sexual assault as an adult. At 28 years old he was a third time offender. Upon conviction I asked that he be put away for the rest of his natural life (I asked for 100 years – the maximum time available to the sentencing judge was 144 years). Judge Al Haas sentenced David Patrick Hashman to serve a total of 65 years in prison.

     In 1994 the Colorado Court of Criminal Appeals affirmed Hashman’s conviction and sentence. In 1995 the Colorado Supreme Court denied certiorari and the case appeared to be over, done, final. But things in our legal system are rarely as they appear.

     Under the Rules of Criminal Procedure in Colorado there are two additional ways in which a convicted person can challenge his or her conviction–Rule 35(b), a Motion for Reduction of Sentence and Rule 35(c), a Motion to Collaterally Attack the Conviction. Hashman filed his 35(b) Motion in a timely fashion; it was heard and denied. He also filed his 35(c) Motion in a timely fashion but it got lost in the world of Criminal Appeals.

     For over ten years Hashman’s Rule 35(c) Motion got flipped from court-appointed lawyer to court-appointed lawyer. All anyone ever did was keep it alive; not one of his lawyers ever set it for hearing. His final court-appointed lawyer, Ms. Bass, lost her mind–literally. After a separate, drawn out process she was declared unfit to practice law and involuntarily placed on the inactive list of Colorado attorneys. After the dust settled, Ms. Bass’ files were reviewed, and new counsel found, Hashman’s old 35(c) Motion came to light. It was old but it was still pending.

     So, on Friday, November 16, 2007–more than 16 years after the offense–David Patrick Hashman was once again in a trial courtroom in the Sixth Judicial District of Colorado. The original presiding judge, Al Haas, is dead. The attorney who represented Brent David Cox, the co-defendant, is dead. The Public Defender who represented Hashman at trial is retired. The victim has disappeared and most of the cops who worked the case are gone.

     But the lead prosecutor in the case, Robert P. Odle, was there. My second chair, Michael Goldman, was there too. He remembered very little about the case. I, on the other hand, remember the case as if it happened yesterday. Thankfully, I am a fairly obsessive personality and took meticulous notes of the events immediately prior to trial. Most of the details of those final days before trial were documented by me in lengthy letters to the parties and their attorneys. All of the allegations Hashman is making about the ineffectiveness of his attorney at trial are rebutted by my notes, my letters, and my memory.

     After an all-day hearing on the matter, Judge Jeff Wilson took the matter under advisement. Simultaneous briefs are due on December 6, 2007. He should rule quickly after that. Hopefully by the end of this year or the beginning of the next we will finally see some resolution to this nightmare.

     I hated this case from the moment I received the call. It literally made my stomach ache to experience these heinous acts of cruelty. That was 16 years ago. For the last two months I have been re-living the nightmare. I pray that it is finally over.

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