Jury trial set for Willett embezzlement case
By Owen Woods | email@example.com
A jury trial has been set for former 12th Judicial District Attorney Robert Willett, who faces a single count of felony embezzlement. The trial is set for three days, starting Aug. 31 and ending Sept.r 2. A pre-trial readiness hearing is also set for July 14.
During Wednesday’s hearing for setting of trial and setting of motions, the state’s special prosecutor, Henry Solano, received a motion to either accept or object to the defense’s motion for the bill of particulars. The bill of particulars would inform Willett of the specific evidence provided against him. Solano will have seven days from Wednesday to make his decision.
Solano said that he may file two motions, one to call in a judge from outside the 12th Judicial District and one for a change of venue.
“I anticipate that one of the defenses may be raised as to the conduct of a prior district attorney who is currently sitting in a capacity in the 12th Judicial District which I think would call for a judge from outside of the district.
“….we may be seeking to have a change of venue, given the fact that there are some – the defendant is involved in some things that affect what is going on by the current district attorney and that may or may not affect the jury pool.”
District Chief Judge Michael Gonzales gave Solano 14 days to file motions, to give the defense adequate time to respond.
Solano also alluded to sensitive information and said he might seek to have the information closed under seal.
Judge Gonzales said, “I am a believer as to the need for transparency in this process, in particular for all the reasons you’ve already raised. … If you’re gonna file them under seal, then we’ll address them to the extent that the court makes them public when we do address these motions [on July 14].”
Willett faces a single count of felony embezzlement of public property, filed in March by 12th Judicial District Attorney Alonzo Payne. Willett and Payne ran against each other in the 2020 Democratic primary election, which Payne won with 62 percent of the vote. Payne ran unopposed in the November general election.
In May, Willett announced his candidacy for the12th Judicial District Attorney. He will be seeking to regain his seat.
The city of Alamosa is leading a recall effort against Payne.
PHOTO: Willitt, left, and Payne