Do Tell

Notorious Denver informant Mark Tibbs has finked his way through a lot of cases. But can he talk his way out of this one?

Tibbs claims that his old friend explained that he'd gone to the Gray home that night looking for Ashley's mother, who apparently wasn't home. "He said he'd been smoking crack and that he'd been up all night long. He said that Ashley kept asking him to take her to the store, and he said he agreed to take her.

"He said they were walking down the street and that he picked her up and put her on his shoulders, and about how he smelled her. He said that there was something about her underclothes...and that he just had to see what it was like."

According to Tibbs, Morris said that Ashley "started to scream, and he was covering her mouth to keep her from hollering out. Then he mumbled a few things I couldn't catch."

Tibbs says Morris then began talking about Norma Fisher, who was an acquaintance of a mutual friend. "He said, 'Remember she got killed behind Bruce Mayfield's house?'" Tibbs says. "He said, 'They got me for that.' He said they got him for some girl with a slashed throat, too. He said, 'They got me for everything.'

"He said he didn't really mean to do these things, and how he was on crack."
A couple of days later, Tibbs says, he phoned Denver chief deputy district attorney Mitch Morrissey, who is prosecuting the Morris case, and told him about the alleged confession. "I thought I was doing the right thing," he says. "Somebody has to speak up for that little girl."

Tibbs insists that he didn't go to Morrissey in search of a deal. He says he ratted out his old friend Morris purely as a public service.

But when Tibbs spilled the beans about Morris, he put the Denver DA's office in a ticklish situation. Ed Pluss, yet another of the court-appointed attorneys assisting Tibbs, explains that prosecutors suddenly grew nervous about cutting deals with Tibbs for fear they would look like rewards for his tip on Morris. According to Pluss, the DA's office knew that if it allowed Tibbs to skip out on any of the charges against him, the attorneys representing Morris would have a field day, accusing Tibbs of lying about Morris to save his own hide.

In fact, Tibbs claims that shortly after he told Morrissey about his conversation with Jon Morris, he received a note from his old buddy Twining, telling him that "all deals are off." Twining denies it, insisting that he hasn't communicated with Tibbs "directly or indirectly" for a year.

Whatever the reason, Tibbs's house of cards quickly collapsed. Instead of getting a 90-day cap on his Denver cases, as he says he was promised, he got a 330-day sentence.

Tibbs says he was furious and that he immediately attempted to rescind his guilty plea. He was given another court-appointed attorney, Duncan Bradley, to represent him in a reconsideration of the sentence. Meanwhile, that case and another one involving a pending probation revocation have been handed over to a special prosecutor. The reason: Tibbs's long history of flapping his gums had created conflicts of interest in both the district attorney's and public defender's offices.

"In a normal case," Pluss says, "I would deal with the [Denver] DA to see if we could come to some resolution on this." Given Tibbs's long history as an informant and the personal danger he would face if sent to prison, Pluss adds, an arrangement could ordinarily be reached to keep his client out of prison. Denver's not about to go for that with the Morris case on the line, Pluss says, though a special prosecutor might.

And despite Pluss's skepticism, Tibbs has shown a little of the old magic in recent months. He was sentenced to three years in prison after the probation he'd received on the trespass charge was revoked December 6, but the sentence was immediately suspended, and he was ordered placed back on probation--even though he was still facing the car-theft charge.

However, he still had the 330-day sentence to complete. And when Denver prosecutors asked that Tibbs be moved from the Denver County Jail for his own safety, the jailers were only too happy to oblige. Tibbs had been a problem prisoner, always complaining about something. So they shipped him off to Jefferson County.

In late December Tibbs got another gift from the court--he was allowed out on work release, meaning he was to check out of jail each day, go to work and then check back in each night. But Tibbs was still steaming over how the Denver DA had allegedly backed out of its deal on the traffic charges. The way he figured it, he had done his time. And on January 6, court records show, Tibbs walked away from the jail and didn't go back. The Jefferson County Sheriff's Department then put out a warrant for his arrest on escape charges.

Tibbs was picked up a few days later at his girlfriend's house in Denver. When he arrived back at the Denver County Jail, he told officers he'd checked with the courts while on the outside and that they'd agreed he should have been released. Jail officials didn't buy it.

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