CAÑON CITY, Colo. — A Cañon City man accused of shooting a 27-year-old Ashton Ladd in January of 2020 is set free and the case dismissed without prejudice after investigators allegedly lost a vital piece of evidence.

According to Deputy District Attorney Liz Drake, she made an oral motion on Friday to dismiss the case against 55-year-old Kenneth Sweet.

Sweet was charged with second-degree murder and tampering with physical evidence. If convicted, he would have faced 16 to 48 years in the Department of Corrections.

Sweet allegedly shot Ashton Ladd on January 7, 2020 in his home at 211 N. Third St. after Ladd reportedly had slapped him.  

According to Drake, Ladd was wearing a cardigan sweatshirt at the time of death.  It was allegedly never collected by Cañon City Police Department (CCPD) investigators at the time of autopsy, as it should have been.  The defense was claiming the shooting was self-defense and wanted it tested for ballistics.  Apparently, the cardigan sweatshirt was the key piece of evidence and no one knows where it is.  CCPD did an exhaustive search and evidence was in CBI’s hands according to Drake, until it was discovered missing.  Drake couldn’t in good conscience proceed with the case because it was incomplete. 

If somehow the cardigan is discovered, the case could once again go forward with new charges.  Drake is very disappointed but chalks it up to a tragic mistake, ‘we are dealing with humans.’ 

FOX21 News reached out to Cañon City Police Department for a comment and have not heard back.