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The Denver Post
By Kirk Mitchell, The Denver Post
Posted: 08/26/2011 01:00:00 AM MDT
An attorney for a murder suspect who admitted slashing and shooting two people to death in a remote home in Douglas County raised the possibility Thursday that her client was suffering from a psychological condition and was under great stress.
Public defender Kathleen McGuire indicated through questioning of Douglas County sheriff’s Sgt. Jason Weaver that she might be planning a defense to establish that her client, Josiah Sher, 27, was taking medications for post- traumatic stress disorder.
She asked Weaver whether it was true that Sher, one of four suspects in the deaths of Amara Wells, 39, and Bob Rafferty, 49, had served several tours in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iraq between 2005 and 2009.
The sergeant also confirmed that Sher told him he had been institutionalized for severe PTSD, was still taking medications for the condition and had called a suicide hotline Feb. 4, less than three weeks before the Feb. 23 murders.
Christopher Wells, 49, Matthew Plake, 27, and Micah Woody, 30, are also charged with murder and numerous related offenses.
The preliminary hearing was continued until Sept. 14.
Christopher Wells’ public defender, Tina Tussay, led Weaver through a line of questioning in which he confirmed that Woody was the only person directly accusing her client of arranging the murders.
Weaver confirmed that Woody at first lied about his involvement and never claimed he and Christopher Wells planned out a murder strategy.
But prosecutors on Thursday played an audiotape of a Feb. 28 jail interview between Weaver and Woody, in which Woody said he was terrified that either Christopher Wells or Sher would kill his wife and children.
“I don’t think you understand the gravity of the situation,” Woody said pleadingly, and apparently crying. “I had my wife and kids go to Pueblo.”
But Weaver told Woody that no action could be taken until Woody gave specific information.
Woody then told Weaver that Christopher Wells gave him $350 on the morning of Feb. 16 for a gun and that three days later, Wells threatened to kill him if he said anything.
Woody also told Weaver that on Feb. 17, Christopher Wells gave him an envelope apparently filled with money. Days later, Christopher Wells told Woody he needed his family killed Monday or Tuesday, when he was to have custody of his 6-year-old daughter. He was to sign divorce papers later in the week.
” ‘Don’t you do anything to get me in trouble because if you do I’ll kill your (expletive) family,’ ” Woody said Christopher Wells told him.
Kirk Mitchell: 303-954-1206 or firstname.lastname@example.org