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Man charged with first-degree murder in 2021 Bayfield stabbing found competent to stand trial

Damitre Burch was deemed incompetent to stand trial shortly after his arrest in August 2021

Damitre Burch was deemed “restored to competency” in court Tuesday and will face a first-degree murder charge for killing a 21-year-old Speedway clerk in Bayfield in August 2021.

Sixth Judicial District Court Judge Todd Norvell listened to several days of testimony from doctors who evaluated Burch over the course of his stay at mental health institutions since his arrest before ruling he is now competent to stand trial.

No trial date has been set, but La Plata County District Attorney Christian Champagne said a preliminary hearing will most likely begin in February or March.

Burch, who is now 18, was 17 when he was arrested at the scene – the Speedway on Buck Highway (County Road 521) – where clerk Jadah Willmett died from stab wounds.

Champagne has previously said Burch will be tried as an adult because of his “advanced age” at the time of the crime and because of “the nature of the crime.”

Burch, a Southern Ute Tribal member, was deemed incompetent to stand trial at his court appearance shortly after his arrest. He has spent the majority of his time since then at the Grand Mesa Youth Services Center, followed by his admittance in May 2022 to the Colorado Mental Health Institute at Pueblo.

Competency is determined based on whether the defendant can assist his or her attorney in the defense and is able to understand and participate in the proceedings in a meaningful way.

Burch, who is now being held at the La Plata County Jail, sat in the courtroom in an orange jail jumpsuit during the competency hearing.

gjaros@durangoherald.com

This story has been corrected to say a preliminary hearing will likely take place in February or March.



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