Jury convicts man in Leadville murder
Summit County correspondent
Aspen, CO Colorado
BRECKENRIDGE, Colo. ” After deliberating Tuesday evening and all day Wednesday, a jury of Summit County residents, nine women and three men, reached a guilty verdict in the first-degree murder trial of Jerry Harold Garmany.
Garmany, 42, was accused of killing his girlfriend, Noreen Byrne on March 26, 1999, in Leadville with a folding, four-inch Buck-style hunting knife. Garmany stabbed Byrne five times, one of the blows fracturing her skull. During the attack in Noreen Byrne’s home, Garmany also stabbed and seriously injured her mother, Nora Byrne.
The jury found Garmany guilty of attempted murder in the second degree, and assault in the first degree against an at-risk person, charges stemming from the attack on Nora Byrne.
“We’re very happy with the verdict. We think justice was done,” District Attorney Mark Hurlbert said. “It was a horrible, horrible crime. The families were devastated and still are.”
Judge David Lass read the verdict and polled the solemn jurors individually in his Summit County District courtroom before setting the sentencing hearing for March 4.
Garmany faces life in prison without the possibility of parole, pending the automatic appeal in first-degree murder cases.
Garmany was previously convicted of the same crime in Lake County District Court. That verdict was overturned on appeal because of inconsistencies related to the professional qualifications of an expert witness.
The trial was moved to Summit County in 2007.
“It (Leadville) is a small enough town and there was enough press that the request for a change of venue was granted,” Hurlbert said after the verdict. “We thought we had a strong case. We had the mother (who identified Garmany as the attacker), and we had the victim’s blood on his (Garmany’s) jeans,” Hurlbert said.
During the first trial, Garmany pled not guilty by reason of insanity. In the Summit County trial that ended Wednesday, Garmany entered a general plea of not guilty, according to Hurlbert.
The defense argued that, because Garmany suffered from epilepsy, and that the attack happened during or shortly after an epileptic seizure, he was unable to form the “deliberate intent” that defines premeditated, first-degree murder.
Garmany has been in prison since his first conviction in 2001 and will be returned to the Lake County jail until the sentencing hearing.
Noreen Byrne’s killing was the first murder in Leadville since 1993. Emergency dispatchers in Lake County were alerted to trouble the night of the murder by a hang-up 911 call from Noreen Byrne’s address. Though mortally wounded, Byrne managed to make the call. Her mother placed a second 911 call a short time later.
Police arrested Garmany as the main suspect in the slaying the next day and found the murder weapon near the place where he had hidden himself for the night.
Defense attorneys wouldn’t comment on the case after the trial.
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