NewsCovering Colorado


New district attorney says public safety is top priority

Posted at 7:43 PM, Jun 11, 2019
and last updated 2019-06-11 21:43:50-04

CAÑON CITY – There’s a new woman in charge of prosecuting criminal cases in four Southern Colorado counties. Kaitlin Turner was officially sworn in this week as the District Attorney for the 11th Judicial District to fill a vacancy left by Molly Chilson who resigned last month.

“The job of the District Attorney is public safety and justice,” Turner said. “So, that’s what we’ll be doing in my office.”

Turner is a former federal attorney and advisor for the Bureau of Prisons. She is also an appellate pro bono attorney. Her background impressed county leaders.

“Hopefully she’ll be a great advocate for our law enforcement in the four counties because that’s something that we definitely need,” said Dwayne McFall, chair of the Fremont County Board of Commissioners.

Chilson’s departure caught a lot of people by surprise. Her May 8th letter of resignation to Governor Jared Polis was brief.

“It has been an honor and a privilege to serve as a prosecutor in this office over the past 15 years,” Chilson wrote. “It is now time for me to explore a new career path.”

Fremont County Undersheriff Derek Irvine said and he and others had just visited with Chilson at her offices in Salida earlier in the week.

“We didn’t get any indication whatsoever that she was planning on resigning at all,” he said.

Turner will have some immediate staffing needs to address as she begins her new career. Deputy District Attorney Thom LeDoux and two other senior prosecutors also announced their resignations this week.

Sheriff Allen Cooper said there’s been no disruption to the day-to-day transfer of prisoners from the jail to the courthouse. His biggest concern is the office being left short handed.

“That’s just going to load up the remaining attorneys with cases and so I’m, I don’t want to see anything fall through the cracks.”

Turner said there is already a plan in place to handle the cases. District attorneys from other jurisdictions have reached out to offer their help and so has the Colorado Attorney General’s Office.

“So, we’ve got a plan for coverage and hopefully we’ll get done good candidates who want to come and join us in the 11th,” Turner said.

Her term of office expires in January of 2021. Turner said she is planning to run in the November 2020 general election.