BRUCE HOLDER 1-22-2020.JPG

Bruce Holder.

Bruce Holder, a convicted fentanyl dealer linked to several deaths in Western Colorado, has again had his sentence delayed as his attorneys probe the jury selection process.

Holder was convicted on four counts related to fentanyl distribution in April 2021 and will now be sentenced in January 2023.

Sentencing for convicted Grand Junction fentanyl dealer delayed again

It's the fifth time his sentencing has been delayed this year, as Holder's attorneys have sought records related to the demographics of the grand jury that indicted him and the trial jury that convicted him. Holder, who is Black, protested the demographic makeup of his jury when the proceedings began last year by declaring that he would stand for the entirety of trial.

In her Thursday filing setting the new sentencing date, Senior Judge Christine M. Arguello referenced "email correspondence" between her staff and attorneys involved in the case. On Wednesday, Holder's lawyers asked the judge to release more jury records to them for expert analysis.

According to several family members who testified against him, Holder sold tens of thousands of fentanyl pills between late 2016 and his arrest in August 2018. Federal prosecutors have linked those pills to as many as nine deaths, as well as several more non-fatal overdoses. Holder's wife acted as his primary mule, bringing pills up from Mexico twice a month, and his children were among his network of dealers, they said.    

The federal judge overseeing Holder's case ordered the release of most, but not all, requested jury information earlier this year so Holder's attorneys could review if members of certain demographics groups were underrepresented. Holder's attorneys have repeatedly requested more time to have an expert witness analysis the information, and they told the judge this week that they needed some of the records she had previously declined to release.

The delay is the latest in a winding, years-long legal saga. Holder was arrested in August 2018 after a months-long investigation by state and federal authorities. Law enforcement eventually arrested more than a dozen people in connection with Holder's activities, including his wife, ex-wife, two biological children and stepdaughter; all were either released without being charged or pleaded guilty and cooperated. 

After an eight-day trial in which his children, wife and former customers testified against him, Holder was convicted in April 2021 after brief jury deliberations. His sentencing has repeatedly been delayed since: He was previously scheduled to receive his sentence in May of this year, then June, then August. Earlier this month, the judged moved it again, from mid-August to November.

Sentencing is now scheduled to be held on Jan. 11, 2023.

Federal prosecutors are seeking a life sentence for Holder, as are the officials who conducted a pre-sentencing report about him for the court. One of the charges upon which he was convicted, distribution resulting in death, carries 20-year minimum sentence. Holder turns 57 in November. He's spent the past four years in county jail facilities as his case has progressed.

Health reporter

Seth Klamann is the health reporter for the Gazette, focused on COVID-19, public health and substance use. He's a Kansas City native and a University of Missouri alum, with stops in Wyoming, Omaha and Milwaukee before moving to Denver.

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