New information from the FBI delays the Tina Peters election tampering trial

Hart Van Denburg/CPR News
Mesa County Clerk Tina Peters, at the time a Republican candidate for Secretary of State, at the Colorado Republican State Assembly Saturday, April 9, 2022. She lost her primary battle to former Jefferson County Clerk and Recorder Pam Anderson. Peters has long been a champion of false claims that the 2020 election was stolen. She was arrested earlier this year on 10 counts of tampering with election equipment and official misconduct related to her alleged efforts to try to uncover fraud involving the voting machines in Mesa County. Peters continues to defend her actions and maintains she did nothing wrong. Reports based on the hard drives of those machines have been debunked.

The upcoming election tampering trial of former Republican Mesa County Clerk and Recorder Tina Peters has been delayed on her attorney’s request. The prosecution did not object. 

The defense said it needs more time to examine a trove of new information and data from the Federal Bureau of Investigation related to the case. Peters faces ten state criminal charges but a federal investigation is ongoing. 

The trial was originally scheduled to begin March 6 in Grand Junction, before the judge agreed to the delay. The prosecution and defense are expected to meet Feb. 22 to set a new trial date, likely this summer.

Peters’ attorney said the new information was “voluminous” and he’s only had a chance to preliminarily review it. 

“Not only will defense counsel require a significant amount of time to review the discovery that has been provided, but the defense will also almost certainly need to retain an expert in computer forensics,” stated Harvey A. Steinberg in his request to delay the trial. 

He said the information which he received on Jan. 30 appears to be related to approximately 16 different devices the FBI seized from a Fruita resident named Gerald Wood.

Wood’s name came up early in the investigation but he has been cleared of any wrongdoing.

Peters has been charged with identity theft, criminal impersonation and official misconduct, among other things, over allegedly using Wood’s identity to create an office key card that a different man then used to access secure parts of the Mesa County elections office during a system update of the voting equipment. 

Investigators claim Peters told state officials that the man attending the update was Woods and that he was a Mesa county employee.

She has pleaded not guilty.

Steinberg said he needs time to review the information to give Peters an effective defense. He said he believes the federal government also has other relevant material he would want to review that could be critical in his efforts to prove Peters’ innocence. 

“The FBI still has items, including electronic devices, within its possession that were seized from the homes and/or persons of Ms. Peters, Sandra Brown, Sherronna Bishop, and possibly others. Those items are almost certain to contain Ms. Peter’s statements as well as those of her co-defendants and other critical witnesses,” Steinberg said.