Nearly two hours into what was to have been a 90-minute sentencing hearing, 16th Judicial District Chief Judge Mark MacDonnell “accepted the plea deal” offered to Anthony Wright who was accused in the October 2012 murder of Byron Griffy.

Nearly two hours into what was to have been a 90-minute sentencing hearing, 16th Judicial District Chief Judge Mark MacDonnell “accepted the plea deal” offered to Anthony Wright who was accused in the October 2012 murder of Byron Griffy.

Wright was sentenced to 10 years supervised probation.

That acceptance, however, did not come without questions directed to District Attorney Jim Bullock.

MacDonnell, responding to one of Bullock’s opening remarks concerning the Griffy family’s objection to the plea agreement, reminded Bullock that on Oct. 4, 2016, Bullock stated in court the family was “in agreement” with the offer.

On that date, Wright’s attorney Adam Schultz stated, “The people have made an offer in this case.”

Griffy family members in that particular hearing were not aware a plea offer was even being considered, something all three daughters mentioned in their statements to the court yesterday (Tuesday, March 14).

On Jan. 27, 2017, family members including Griffy’s biological grandchildren heard the details of the plea: six years of supervised probation to terminate after three years “if there are no problems.”

That, however, was not the agreement accepted by MacDonnell in yesterday’s (Tuesday’s) hearing.

With the plea came a reduced charge to accessory to the crime and delivering false information to law enforcement thus impeding the investigation.

MacDonnell sentenced Wright to 10 years supervised probation with the possibility of early release from that sentence after five years.

There were, however, conditions attached. Wright was also assessed a $25,000 fine and 250 hours of useful public service. Additionally, Wright must remain on a GPS ankle monitor for an additional six months.

Prior to applying for early release from probation, Wright must have completed the public service and satisfied his financial obligations to the court (fines and restitution).

Of Griffy, MacDonnell said, “Mr. Griffy was a leader in the community. He was valued, valuable, and loved his family and his community.”

The betrayal shown by Wright and his domestic partner Charles Giebler was “severe,” MacDonnell continued and “sickens this court.”

Particularly unsettling to MacDonnell was the fact “the people who caused the death (Griffy’s) then presided over the funeral.”

Wright and Giebler, MacDonnell continued, “deceived an entire community for over 20 years.”

This reference was to Wright’s and Giebler’s life in Florence, Colorado, where the two ran several businesses including a funeral home, the Charles Anthony Funeral Home.

Giebler, who was serving as the mayor of Florence at the time of his death, passed Wright off as his brother when in fact the two had been in a same-sex relationship since Wright was a teen.

In their statements to the court, Griffy’s three daughters addressed the loss of their father.

Lindalin Dockter spoke of her father’s friendship with the two former Fremont County men. “Charles (Giebler) and Anthony (Wright) were friends.”

Her father, she said, celebrated that friendship and always spoke highly of the pair. He always enjoyed seeing his friends and was especially excited that day in October 2012 because Charles and Anthony were coming from Florence to take him out for a celebratory birthday lunch.

Dockter said she was aghast that “friends he (her father) chose to care for us after his death would be responsible for his death.”

Griffy’s youngest daughter Amy spoke of her struggles following her father’s murder.

“How can I trust anyone?” she asked. Shattered relationships, confusion and personal security are part of her everyday life, she said.

“My father was a frail, elderly man,” Griffy said, and for his murder, Wright received a “slap on the wrist.”

Her final words to Wright, “As you sow, so shall you reap.”

Linette Griffy, who of the three daughters was the only one to live in Fowler, spoke of the day of her father’s murder.

She had spoken to him the morning of Oct. 12, 2012, and he shared his excitement in having lunch with Giebler and Wright that day, the day before his birthday.

That evening after she returned home from her job in Pueblo, her father was nowhere to be found so she drove to the family’s farm east of Fowler to search for her father.

She even called Giebler to inquire about her father’s whereabouts.

Plagued with nightmares about that evening when her father was found deceased with a gunshot wound to the back of his head, she said her life had become a nightmare.

“I wish it was a nightmare,” she said, “but it’s my life.

“You took away the glue that held me together.”

Linette then read a statement from her daughter Laiken. “Every day is a struggle,” the teen’s statement said. “I now suffer from many trust issues.

“I’m scared of my birthday,” her statement continued, “that someone will murder me.”

Hannah Higgs, the daughter of Linette’s partner, Gina Griffy, said through her tears that Byron was “not my blood,” but she considered him her grandfather.

“My family can’t hold it together. I’m so scared all the time.”

She indicated being away from her family was difficult and she “comes home every weekend from college” because she needs the familiarity and closeness of her family.

Last to speak for the Griffy family was Gina, who described herself as “Byron’s daughter-in-law.”

“Without Byron, we’re all scattered. We don’t have a leader. We’re all so different - so torn.”

Three people spoke on behalf of Wright including his mother, a brother and Florence realtor Brandon Angel.

In making his decision to accept the plea, MacDonnell referred to a statement from a long-time friend and neighbor J. H. McCuistion. In his letter to the court, McCuistion implored, “One way or another, judge, this case needs to end.”

Events of this particular case began with the discovery of Griffy’s body on Oct. 12, 2012, the day before Griffy’s 77th.

Following an investigation by the Otero County Sheriff’s Office and the Colorado Bureau of Investigation, it was hinted that Giebler was to be arrested in January 2013; however, before that warrant could be served, Giebler died (Jan. 25, 2013).

On Aug. 14, 2013, an arrest warrant was filed charging Wright with murder in the first degree, murder in the second degree and conspiracy to commit murder in the first degree.

Bond was set at $1,000,000 and was later reduced, allowing Wright to bond out of jail. He was, however, fitted with an ankle monitor.

Jury selection in the first trial began July 8, 2015, ending with a mistrial on July 20, 2015.

A second trial was set for Dec. 12, 2016, through Dec. 23, 2016, but that was reset for Jan. 30, 2017 to Feb. 6, 2017.

It was a day prior to the second trial’s commencement that proceedings were stopped so Wright could consider the previously-rejected plea.

A change in judges and attorneys also marked the case. Judge Michael Schiferl, who was scheduled to hear the trial, recused himself since his wife and Gina Griffy were colleagues.

Wright’s first attorney team, Randy Jorgensen and Paul Bratfisch, were replaced by Schultz and Karl Tameler as a result of several issues, one of which included non-payment.