A Greeley man accused of sexually assaulting and murdering a 78-year-old Platteville grandmother spent the better part of the 1980s and ’90s in prison for multiple burglary, theft and trespassing convictions, records show.
They also indicate that Terry James Sanchez was discharged from the U.S. Army in 1983 and at one time was charged with rape, although that charge was later dropped. Further details of that case were unavailable.
Sanchez was arrested May 5, accused of killing Mary Jane Meining, who was found with her throat slashed April 8 in the rural home she shared with her husband of 57 years. Sheriff’s deputies say Sanchez also stole jewelry from Meining and a neighbor.
Sanchez has been charged with murder and may face the death penalty. Because the judge hearing the case has issued a gag order, further information about Sanchez’s arrest is unavailable.
But information about his numerous convictions is available, and it paints a picture of a man familiar with the prison systems in two states. During a recent court appearance, Sanchez’s numerous jailhouse tattoos were visible below the short sleeves of his jail jumpsuit.
According to New Mexico prison records, Sanchez in 1985 was convicted of multiple counts of burglary, theft and larceny, and spent June 1985 to July 31, 1991, in the Central New Mexico Correctional Facility.
Officials are still trying to locate the paper files regarding those cases at the request of Sanchez’s defense attorney, Tamara Brady. Brady has asked the prison officials not to give out those records.
In January 1992, Sanchez was deemed an “absconder” by New Mexico officials because he had skipped out on his parole.
By October of that year, Sanchez was in trouble in Colorado, convicted in three separate cases of trespassing and burglary.
According to court records, his cases stemmed from crimes including second-degree burglary of a dwelling in Morgan, Logan and Washington counties. Records with the specifics of those cases was unavailable, but he served concurrent sentences.
Sanchez was transferred into Colorado Department of Corrections custody Jan. 8, 1993, and taken to Colorado Territorial Correctional Facility on March 1, 1993. He spent nearly the next decade behind those bars, records show.
That prison in Cañon City, known as “Old Max,” is home to the state prison system’s infirmary, where physically ill inmates are housed. Mentally ill and handicapped inmates are housed at another prison.
Department of Corrections spokeswoman Alison Morgan said she could not say what, if any condition, Sanchez was receiving care for, but added that “it’s extremely rare for one inmate to stay in one prison that long.”
She said federal health privacy laws forbid the disclosure of additional information.
Brady, Sanchez’s court-appointed attorney, has suggested that her client has “mental difficulties.” She did not return a phone call seeking comment.
Morgan said Sanchez spent several months in solitary confinement during his sentence. She said that was average, given the length of confinement.
“It’s really pretty unremarkable,” she said of his record in prison. “Over a 10-year period, that’s not remarkable.”
Sanchez was placed on intensive supervised parole in Greeley on Feb. 19, 2004, and then on general parole in April of last year.
“He’s on parole without any incident or issue until May 5, 2005, when he was arrested and placed in the Weld County Jail,” Morgan said.
Trevor Hughes can be reached at 303-684-5220, or by e-mail at email@example.com.