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DA filing charges again in '76 cold case

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By Adrienne Anderson

The district attorney has decided to direct-file murder and rape charges against Ricky Lee Harnish in the 1976 murder of Holly Marie Andrews instead of appealing a decision to dismiss the case.

DNA found on the body of a 1976 murder victim was not enough for county Judge Rachel Olguin-Fresquez to send the case to trial, and the case was dismissed after a preliminary hearing on April 17.

But in many felony cases, the district attorney may direct-file with the district judge. District Attorney Mark Hurlbert direct-filed the case May 8. Hurlbert will now have to start from scratch and reintroduce his case at a new preliminary hearing later this year.

It was just three days after Christmas in 1976 when two cross-country skiers found Andrews’ naked body near Bakerville. She was raped and had been stabbed six times in the back and slashed across the chest.

The Columbine High School student had recently completed a treatment program, and the family said she was putting her life back together. She left her mother’s house in Littleton to see a friend on the previous Sunday night and never returned.

In 2007, a new law began requiring that all convicted felons submit a DNA sample, which is then sent to Colorado’s DNA database. The database also contains genetic fingerprints left behind at unsolved crime scenes across Colorado. The system is continually searching for matches.

In January, the system found an apparent match between Harnish and sperm found on the victim’s body. Harnish was arrested Feb. 1 and remains in jail.

District Judge Russell Granger put a gag order on the case, preventing the prosecution or defense from discussing it.

In a previous story, Hurlbert said he believed he has enough evidence to go forward and said there was possibly more evidence surfacing.

The defense will have an opportunity to object to the direct-file at a hearing July 18.