During a preliminary hearing in Delta District Court on Tuesday, Jan. 15, Judge Steven Schultz found probable cause for second degree murder charges against Heather Jones.

Jones previously faced three counts in the shooting of Ryan Redifer in Paonia on Jan. 12, 2018 -- assault in the first degree, assault in the second degree and violation of a protection order. Redifer died on Sept. 1, after months of hospitalization. Shortly after that occurrence, the district attorney's office filed the additional charge of murder in the second degree, a class two felony.

A preliminary hearing was held on the initial charges in June 2018. The hearing on Jan. 15 focused solely on the additional count.

Deputy district attorney Barb Sanford called just one witness -- deputy coroner Ashton Ulrich, who had requested an autopsy be performed on Redifer. She reviewed the autopsy report on the witness stand, noting the pathologist's conclusion that Redifer's death was due to complications of gunshot to his abdomen.

Details surrounding the incident were outlined during the first preliminary hearing and were not reiterated in court Tuesday.

Defense attorney Brandon Luna confined his argument to the autopsy report, which said Redifer died due to lack of oxygen to the brain. Redifer apparently had pneumonia. Luna said that smoking and inhalation of coal dust could have contributed to that illness. He said the document does not connect the lack of oxygen to Redifer's brain to the gunshot wound to the abdomen. In fact, he said, the surgical area on Redifer's abdomen was still intact.

Judge Schultz concluded the people met the standards for probable cause. A pretrial conference will take place on March 4, with a six-day trial scheduled to begin April 5.

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