Hike sentence

Susan Holmes, grieving mother, on vindictive prosecution, perjury punishment

By any measure, the prosecution of Susan Holmes for checking a box on an extreme risk protection order form saying that she and Corporal Phil Morris of the Colorado State University Police had a child in common – his son, Jeremy Holmes, who was shot by Morris five years ago this month – has been extraordinary.

Authorities relentlessly pursued the former Fort Collins resident, who is in her late 60s, even declaring her Larimer County’s most wanted person in January 2020 before breaking into her home and arresting her during a a live broadcast of an interview about his situation the following month. Holmes was eventually charged with several crimes, and on July 19 she was sentenced to two years of supervised probation after being found guilty of two of them: perjury and attempting to influence a public official.

According to research by attorney Jonathan Greenlee, who represented Holmes, she was the first person in Larimer County to be tried for entering false information on a protective order in about two decades — and even after she was two years old. and a half of a year-long stint in the justice system, she still doesn’t believe she’s done anything wrong.

“I consider these to be totally false accusations,” she said from Florida, where she now lives, in her first interview since her conviction. “And I consider the prosecution to be selective and vindictive. I was targeted.”

Even before the recent sentencing, Holmes’ punishment had been severe. When she traveled to New Mexico late last year in violation of her recognizance, which required her to stay in Colorado until her trial, a nationwide warrant was issued to her name, and she was later arrested and jailed for almost six months because she could not afford the $10,000 bond. During this time, she went on a hunger strike for more than a month which led to her being rushed to hospital, and she says she now suffers from debilitating illnesses which have completely destroyed her health. But while she is able to breathe, she refuses to be muzzled.

“I’m not going to stop,” she insists. “I will never stop defending and fighting for my son.”

Click to enlarge

A portrait of the late Jeremy Holmes.

Courtesy of Susan Holmes

In the weeks leading up to his death, Jeremy, whom Holmes called “a shrewd and brilliant person” with a knack for computer game design, had such a bad reaction to marijuana that she believes he was suffering from an extremely rare disease known as cannabis-induced psychosis. Suddenly, he was having unusual mood swings and violently threatening his older brother, Alex, who lived with his wife in an apartment on the CSU campus. He had never owned a gun before, but Jeremy got a knife three days before he died, apparently to protect the family following an attempted break-in at the Fort Collins-area home he shared with Holmes.

These issues came to a head on July 1, 2017, when Jeremy got angry that Alex told him not to visit; Holmes said his eldest son received several “strange” phone calls from Jeremy while he was in the middle of a major project. Shortly after, a clearly depressed Jeremy, who Holmes said had smoked more marijuana, picked up the knife, which was covered in a scabbard, and drove to Alex’s apartment, about three kilometers from the house – after first saying he was angry and wanted to kill him.

Holmes called Alex but got no answer. So she phoned the CSU campus police and asked that an officer be sent to Alex’s house to warn him and his stepdaughter not to answer the door if Jeremy arrived. Holmes specifically remembers telling the operator that Jeremy was mentally ill.

CSU Police Officer Katie Aron was dispatched to Alex’s apartment and spoke with him and his wife. Also captured in Aron’s video: the moment in her conversation with the couple where she heard a scream and ran off to what turned out to be the scene of the shooting.

Jeremy was indeed nearby, but he never went to Alex’s apartment. Instead, he was walking along Prospect Road, across a six-foot high fence. By then Jeremy had the knife in his hand; the sheath had been removed, but he had not uttered any further threats or taken any other threatening actions.

Morris, who was also at the scene, walked over to Jeremy and confronted him with a gun. Jeremy responded with suicidal statements, asking Morris to kill him. Morris yelled at him to drop the knife, but Jeremy continued to hold the gun as he walked towards the officer, who backed away in response. Seconds later, Fort Collins Police Department officer Erin Mast arrived on the scene, performing a U-turn in his vehicle and emerging from behind the wheel with his gun drawn to give Jeremy his own order. to release his grip on the knife. This time he reacted by moving more strongly towards Morris, prompting the two officers to open fire.

Here’s a portion of Corporal Morris’ body camera video. (Contents may upset some readers.)
In November 2017, Holmes saw unredacted body camera footage from the shoot, but the public never got a chance to see it. In the end, edited versions of Morris and Mast’s body camera videos were shared, but not Aron’s material – and Holmes’ very public battle for his exit, as well as his call for discipline or Morris’s indictment (his actions were deemed justified), made him persona non grata among many powerful members of the political and law enforcement establishment in Larimer County.

The issue really came to life when Holmes tried to disarm Morris using an Extreme Risk Protection Order, or ERPO – a controversial legal procedure that temporarily restricts access to guns for those deemed a threat to themselves or for others. Before marking the part of the order claiming she had a child in common with Morris, she says she consulted with an attorney who told her the order’s vague language made such a decision acceptable – but the sheriff’s office of Larimer County and the Larimer District Attorney. The office was different.

“I exposed the cover-up of my son Jeremy’s murder – I exposed their corruption so much that they had to shut me up and discredit me,” Holmes said. “That was what it was about.”

Details of her arguments are shared on Jeremy Holmes Justice, a website she created.

After her arrest in February 2020, Holmes was released but ordered to remain in the state. She declines to say why she traveled to New Mexico, but notes that on November 5, 2021, she was arrested for a traffic violation, then arrested again after officers discovered the warrant there. her name. She was imprisoned in New Mexico for several weeks before being transported to a Larimer County jail which she describes as “hell” which serves “slop” rather than food to inmates.

“I refused to eat and went on a hunger strike,” she recalls. “I didn’t eat for 35 days and almost died. They had to rush me to the hospital because I passed out and smashed my head on the floor. They chained me up – it was more torture going to the hospital than dying on the prison floor – and the emergency room did nothing to help me. They took me back to the prison, and I I was just not functional. Eventually, after a day or two, the prison system finally broke down and gave me saline, but I was pretty much dying.”

The situation got so bad that Holmes eventually pleaded guilty to a felony charge of severing his bond on the last day of April, shortly after his conviction for perjury and attempting to influence a public official. “I felt like I had no choice,” she says. “I was under duress.”

After the guilty plea, Holmes was allowed to move to Florida, where members of her family live. “I needed to go somewhere stable, because I had lost everything – everything,” she says. “I had nothing.”

Click to enlarge Mourning mum Susan Holmes on "Vindictive" Prosecution, penalty of perjury

Susan Holmes made a pilgrimage to the place where her son died on July 19.

Photos courtesy of Susan Holmes

Despite her financial situation, the judge handling the perjury case refused to let her attend the sentencing hearing remotely. Holmes had to return to Fort Collins for the July 19 proceedings, which were “very short – maybe half an hour,” she said. She did not speak at this session, just as she had remained a mother during the trial. Her only statement was the shirt she wore: “Justice for Jeremy Holmes.”

While in Colorado, Holmes visited the place where Jeremy had died – a place she knew very well. “His blood had been there for months,” she said, “and I kept seeing it, because I went there every day. I took roses every day for months, because it was the only thing I could do to deal with the pain. I also put a Buddha statue there and planted a bush, and many people who heard the shooting came to commemorate Jeremy with small electric candles which they placed near the tree where he collapsed. The coroner’s report says he lost most of his blood there.”

Holmes’ physical condition remains precarious. “I have serious problems,” she said. “I have heart damage since I was in prison and a mass on my lungs.” But as long as she can, she will speak out about what she sees as her unfair treatment simply because she wanted to reveal the truth about her son’s death.

“It was exaggerated, and the intention was to silence me,” she says. “But I will not be silenced.”