Judge allows Colo. medics', cops' criminal cases in Elijah McClain's death to move forward

Judge Priscilla Loew found sufficient evidence in the death of the 23-year-old Black man to proceed with the first responders' criminal trials

Elise Schmelzer
The Denver Post

AURORA, Colo. — The criminal cases against the former Aurora police officers and paramedics indicted in Elijah McClain’s death will move forward after an Arapahoe County judge found the evidence against them strong enough.

Lawyers for the five men asked Adams County District Court Judge Priscilla Loew to review the cases and argued that there was not enough evidence to support the charges against their clients.

Elijah McClain, 23, was a massage therapist from Aurora, Colo. He died in 2019 in custody.
Elijah McClain, 23, was a massage therapist from Aurora, Colo. He died in 2019 in custody. (Family Photo)

A grand jury in August indicted the five men — Peter Cichuniec, Jeremy Cooper Nathan Woodyard, Randy Roedema and Jason Rosenblatt — on a combined 32 counts in connection with McClain’s 2019 death while in their custody, including manslaughter and criminally negligent homicide.

Loew reviewed thousands of pages of testimony and evidence and on Monday found that there was enough evidence for the cases to proceed.

“After reviewing the grand jury materials, the court finds, when viewing the evidence in the light most favorable to the people and with all inferences in favor of the prosecution, there is sufficient evidence to establish probable cause for each of the counts listed in the grand jury indictment filed with the court on Sept. 1, 2022,” Loew wrote in her order.

Probable cause is a legal standard that states there must be sufficient evidence to create a reasonable belief that the defendant committed the crime charged. That is a lower standard than the “beyond a reasonable doubt” standard needed to convict someone at trial.

All five men are scheduled to appear in court for arraignment on Aug. 12.

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