3/23/98 Jacob Ind II
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A 16-year-old Jacob Ind is pictured during his murder trial in 1994. He is serving two life sentences for the murders, but recently won a retrial. Ind is from Woodland Park.

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CRIPPLE CREEK A man awaiting a new trial in the 1992 killings of his mother and stepfather in Woodland Park will be tried as an adult, a judge has ruled, resolving months of legal wrangling.

The decision by Teller County District Judge Lin Billings Vela cleared the way for Jacob Ind to receive a trial date on multiple counts of first-degree murder in the killings of Pamela and Kermode Johnson when Ind was 15.

Ind, now 41, is to be arraigned Nov. 5.

Ind initially was tried and convicted as an adult in closely watched proceedings, but he was granted a new trial in October 2017 after a judge ruled that his court-appointed attorney blocked him from taking the stand, violating his rights.

That created a legal thicket as attorneys clashed over whether Ind, who said the crimes were motivated by longstanding physical and sexual abuse, should be prosecuted in juvenile court or adult court. Billings Vela previously agreed with Ind’s defense team that that case should at least be opened in juvenile court, citing a 2012 law change requiring murder suspects under 16 to be charged as juveniles.

The same change allowed prosecutors to petition the courts for a transfer to adult court if they can establish that it “serves the interests of justice.” In her Oct. 7 ruling, the judge granted such a motion by Ind’s prosecutors, putting his case back on track for a trial.

The basis for the judge’s decision is unclear, because the ruling was issued as part of a juvenile case file, which is sealed. But leaving the case in the juvenile system would have bucked a long trend in the Pikes Peak region of youthful killers being tried as adults.

Had the case remained in juvenile court, Ind would have faced sharply reduced sentencing, making it possible he could have been released quickly even if convicted.

The judge is expected to consider a renewed request for bond from Ind’s attorneys at his appearance next week.

Reporter

I cover legal affairs for The Gazette, with an emphasis on the criminal courts. Tips to lance.benzel@gazette.com

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