Defendant pleads not guilty by reason of insanity in 2020 Boulder murder case




  • In US
  • 2022-12-03 04:28:00Z
  • By Daily Camera, Boulder, Colo.

Dec. 2-The Boulder man accused of beating another man to death with a pipe in 2020 has pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity.

Zachary Miller, 37, is charged with first-degree murder after deliberation, felony murder and robbery in the death of Christopher Havens, 46.

Miller pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity to those charges at a hearing Friday in Boulder District Court, and he was scheduled for a sanity evaluation.

Defense attorney Emily Briggs asked for a status conference so attorneys could make sure the evaluation was completed and a report was submitted before a trial date was set.

Briggs asked that the evaluation take place at Colorado Mental Health Hospital in Pueblo. While attorneys have expressed frustration with long wait times related to the state hospital and Briggs said she did not expect a report "with any type of expediency," she said Miller's lengthy stay in Pueblo for competency restoration meant his familiarity with staff there might help the process.

Prosecutors did not object, and Boulder District Judge Nancy Salomone approved the request and set Miller for a status conference on March 3.

First-degree murder carries a mandatory life sentence in prison without parole. If found not guilty by reason of insanity, Miller would be held at a state facility for treatment until he was deemed to no longer be a safety threat to himself and the community.

According to an affidavit, police were called to the 2600 block of Walnut Street on Oct. 24, 2020, after Havens was found dead on a mattress outside.

Police said Havens had severe head trauma and was declared dead at the scene. A preliminary examination would later show almost the entire left side of his skull was fractured.

According to the affidavit, police found a bloody pipe as well as blood spatter on the mattress and a nearby tree.

Police had responded to the area the night before for a loitering complaint, and officers said they found Havens there and told him he could not camp in the area.

According to the affidavit, a witness said he was drinking with Havens in the area sometime between 8 p.m. and midnight on Oct. 23, 2020. The witness said at some point a man came out from behind the trees and started attacking Havens with the pipe.

The witness said he eventually tackled the man to stop the attack. According to the affidavit, the witness heard the attacker say something to the effect of "serving" Havens.

After noticing Havens' pockets were empty, police pulled a warrant for his missing phone and tracked it back to the area of 26th and Walnut streets, and police found Miller in the area with the phone.

Police said Miller had what appeared to be blood on his shoes and coat, and the pattern on his shoe sole matched a footprint found at the crime scene.

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