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Author:

Lance Benzel

Legal Affairs reporter

Lance Benzel covers legal affairs for The Gazette, with a focus on the criminal courts, and also writes a monthly mountain biking column entitled "Rider in Residence." He joined the newspaper's staff in 2008 after previous stops in Billings, Mont., central North Carolina and Chicago.

El Paso County jail. Photo by: EL PASO COUNTY SHERIFF'S OFFICE
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Robert Dear, 59, has been held at the Colorado State Mental Health Institute at Pueblo since May 2016, when 4th Judicial District Chief Judge Gilbert Martinez ruled that he was incompetent to stand trial. Photo by Andy Cross/The Denver Post
Martin Drake Power plant
Martin Drake Power Plant shot from Gold Hill Mesa on Thursday, Dec. 1, 2016. Carol Lawrence, The Gazette
An inmate stood inside his cell talking to another inmate in an ajacent cell inside the Denver County Jail on Smith Road. Denver Councilman Doug Linkhart wants to redirect $25 million in spending for new beds at the county jail to other purposes. Chief Elias Diggins describes the portions of the jail scheduled to be demolished as antiquated and inefficient. Karl Gehring, The Denver Post
When Rick Ratzlaff of Cañon City bought the contents of a storage unit, he was surprised to find murder evidence from the cold case of a murdered teen, The storage unit was rented by Lt. Robert Dodd with the Fremont County Sheriff's Office. The contents were put up for auction after Dodd failed to make the payments on the unit. Ratzlaff talks on the phone while sitting on his vintage car at one of the main crossroads in Canon City on Tuesday, May 10, 2017. Photo by Jerilee Bennett, The Gazette
Former El Paso County Sheriff Terry Maketa leaves the courtroom with his wife, Vicki Maketa, Friday, May 19, 2107,  inside the Terry R. Harris Judicial Building in Colorado Springs, Colo.   after a Judge postposed his trial three weeks to June 27. In December, Maketa pleaded not guilty to nine counts alleging corruption in office. Prosecutors allege that Maketa resorted to extortion, kidnapping and other crimes. (The Gazette, Christian Murdock)
Former El Paso County Sheriff Terry Maketa leaves the courtroom with his wife, Vicki Maketa, Friday, May 19, 2107, inside the Terry R. Harris Judicial Building in Colorado Springs, Colo. after a Judge postposed his trial three weeks to June 27. In December, Maketa pleaded not guilty to nine counts alleging corruption in office. Prosecutors allege that Maketa resorted to extortion, kidnapping and other crimes. (The Gazette, Christian Murdock)
BC-CO--Former Sheriff Indicted
Former El Paso County, Colo. Sheriff Terry Maketa and his defense team including high-powered attorney, Pamela Mackey, leave El Paso County courthouse in Colo. Springs, Colo. Thursday, June 9, 2016. It was the first court appearance for Maketa and two subordinates since being indicted on charges including extortion, false imprisonment and kidnapping. CAROL LAWRENCE,THE GAZETTE
Luis Anchondo. (Courtesy of CSPD)
Jail Deaths
ADVANCE FOR SATURDAY, JAN. 21, 2017 - In this Jan. 10, 2017 photo, Desiree Kalodnicki, who is the sister of of John Patrick Walter, seen in photo at left, reflects on her brother's life at her home in Peyton, Colo. Kalodnicki's brother died in Fremont County jail of severe withdrawal and she has sued the county and the private health care worker over it. The number of people who died in Colorado's jails more than doubled in four years, following a national trend of a rising death toll among inmates in city and county jails across the country. (RJ Sangosti/The Denver Post via AP)