CENTENNIAL, Colo. (AP) – A Saudi national convicted of sexually abusing his housekeeper should remain behind bars in Colorado in case investigators find some link between him and the slaying of the state’s prisons director, a prosecutor said Friday.
Homaidan al-Turki has served his minimum sentence and is seeking to be released and deported to Saudi Arabia to serve probation.
During a court hearing on his request, prosecutor Ann Tomsic said that if al-Turki leaves the country, authorities would not be able to bring him back if investigators later link him to the shooting death of Tom Clements.
Her comments came a day after the state’s assistant prisons chief suggested that no such connection had been found while acknowledging for the first time that al-Turki was being investigated in the death.
Clements was killed outside his home in Monument, about 50 miles south of Denver, about a week after denying a previous transfer request from al-Turki.
Tomsic said outside the courtroom that the El Paso County Sheriff’s Department considers al-Turki a person of interest in the death.
Sheriff’s spokesman Sgt. Joe Roybal declined to confirm that.
Authorities say former Colorado inmate Evan Spencer Ebel was found with a gun matching the weapon used to shoot Clements. Ebel, a member of a white supremacist gang, died in a shootout with Texas authorities two days after Clements was killed.
Al-Turki has not been charged in the death, and his lawyers deny he was involved.
Defense attorney Norman Mueller said his client should be allowed to serve probation near family in Saudi Arabia because he’s a model inmate and considered a low risk for reoffending. Mueller also says al-Turki has met the minimum requirement of his sentence.
“He has been punished,” Mueller said.
Tomsic said al-Turki has refused to participate in a mandatory sex offender program and remains in denial after committing what she called a “heinous” crime.
Authorities have said al-Turki kept the housekeeper as a virtual slave.
Arapahoe County District Judge J. Mark Hannen said he expected to rule on al-Turki’s request within 60 days.
Al-Turki’s lawyers raised the investigation of Clements’ death Thursday while questioning Angel Medina, assistant director of the Colorado Department of Corrections.
Medina was not asked whether al-Turki had been formally cleared, but he said no misconduct was reflected on a subsequent assessment of the prisoner.
Medina didn’t say why authorities decided to investigate al-Turki.
An associate director of the state Corrections Department testified Thursday that Clements was prepared in January to grant the transfer but changed his mind after hearing from an FBI agent who said he had relevant information. Paul Hollenbeck didn’t elaborate on what the agent said or why the transfer was denied.
Al-Turki is serving eight years to life after his 2006 conviction on unlawful sexual contact by use of force, false imprisonment and other charges.
He has denied the charges, saying he is a victim of anti-Muslim sentiment.
Al-Turki has been transferred to a federal prison in Tucson, Ariz., in part because of the notoriety of the Clements investigation, Medina said.
– By Dan Elliott, AP Writer
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