Wednesday, March 20 2013, 11:38 PM CDT
Criado plea saves county money
By Caitlin Conrad/KTVL.com
MEDFORD, Ore -- Jackson County District Attorney's Office relieved of it's biggest case, and the Criado plea deal is saving the county time and money.
Jordan Criado plead guilty this week to the murders of his wife and kids. Ending what have been a long and traumatic court battle.
The DA's office was prepared to bring the case to trial. District Attorney Beth Heckert says they were also ready to spend a lot of time and money, "it clearly would have been a $100,000 case," she said.
Heckert says the $100,000 figure is just a ball park estimate -- and it's one that doesn't factor in the cost on the public defender's side or the price of appeals. "So when you take all of those and add them together you absolutely would come up with a very large sum of money," Heckert said.
Criado was facing aggravated murder a charge which can result in the death penalty. Capital punishment crimes mean an extra post-trial, for a jury to decide sentencing, if they find the defendant guilty. According the Defense team Criado's trial and sentencing easily could have lasted four months. "We've never had a trial that long in Jackson County, but we've also never had a case that was like this," The DA said.
Heckert says the DA's office in Medford doesn't keep track of every hour or dollar spent on a specific case. However there are studies tracking expenditure in other counties. According to a survey, done in Clark County Nevada, it costs about $230,000 just in defense fees to pay public defenders in a capital case. The study says it takes two DA's staff about 2,300 hours to prosecute the same case. Criado's trial would have taken the time of two prosecutors and a DA's assistant in Jackson County.
Criado's case would have also tied up a court room, a judge and jurors. Plus the time of 100 witnesses some of them paid experts. Heckert sayd the DA's office has already hired some of it's witnesses but she says you can't not prepare for a case. "If you aren't preparing for a case, then that case is not going to settle, the defense has to feel that you're ready to go," She said.
Had a jury decided he was guilty and then sentenced him to the death penalty the appeal process could have take 10 to 20 years.Even if they had sentenced him to life Heckert says there still would have been costly appeals. She says in the end this is a resolution the victim's family can live with, which is what Heckert cares most about.