Monday, January 31, 2011

Cops ID victim in bar slaying

The suspect, photo from APD.

AURORA | Police on Monday identified a man slain outside an Aurora Friday as Trison Mitta, 26, and released a surveillance camera image of the man investigators believe killed him. 

Police also added up to $5,000 from the Aurora Police Reward Fund to the $2,000 reward Crime Stoppers offered Saturday, bringing the possible reward for information about the killer to $7,000. 

Mitta was shot around 11 p.m. Friday outside the Sports Station bar in the 800 block of Dayton Street, police said. 

When investigators responded to the scene they found Mitta wounded man in the parking lot of a bar. he was rushed to an area hospital where he later died. 

The surveillance image released Monday showed a man wearing a blue plaid jacket with a furry hood walking into the bar, talking on a cell phone. The man, who appeared to have a black mustache, was also wearing a blue baseball cap turned backwards. 

Police are asking anyone with information about the shooting to call Detective Gretchen Fronapfel at 303-739-6013 or Crime Stoppers at 720-913-STOP (7867).  

Click below for a larger image from the bar's surveillance camera. Click the images to enlarge.

Madrid's prelim set for May

Ted Madrid

AURORA | A judge Monday scheduled a May preliminary hearing for a man charged with murder after police say he threw his girlfriend’s toddler son across a room, killing the boy last month. 

Theodore “Ted” Madrid, 30, was charged last month with first-degree murder and two counts of child abuse resulting in death in connection with the slaying of Caden Rodgers. 

At a hearing Monday morning in Arapahoe County Court, a judge scheduled Madrid’s preliminary hearing for May 12. At the hearing, which is scheduled to last an entire day, a judge is expected to rule whether there is enough evidence for Madrid to stand trial. 

According to court documents, Madrid was baby sitting Caden in the early morning hours of Jan. 5 when he got frustrated with the boy and threw him over his shoulder. 

When Caden’s mother, Ashley Rodgers, returned home, she called 911 because the boy was unresponsive. Caden never regained consciousness and died a few days later. 

Madrid was initially charged with felony child abuse but the charge was upgraded to murder after Caden died. 

He is being held in the Arapahoe County Jail without bond.

Arraignment Tues. in liquor store slaying

AURORA | A man charged with murder in connection with a liquor store robbery last spring that left a customer dead and a suspect wounded is due in court Tuesday. 

Anthony Gillespie, 24, was arrested in August in connection with the April 9 robbery at Sixth Avenue Liquors that left Benigno Morales-Ramirez, 24, dead. 

Gillespie is set to appear in Arapahoe County District Court on Tuesday for an arraigment hearing, according to court records. The hearing, at which Gillespie is expected to enter a plea, was previously scheduled for Jan. 19 but was pushed back to Feb. 1.

In the days after Morales-Ramirez’s death, police arrested another man, Elon Raynell Wynn Robinson, 21, in connection with the crime. Robinson was shot during the robbery, according to police records. 

More details released in hit and run

AURORA | Police say they are looking for a large white sedan in connection with a hit-and-run crash that left a 41-year-old man dead early Sunday morning. 

In the hours after the crash that killed Royce Wallace near East First Avenue and Havana Street, police said they had little to go on because the driver left the scene and the only witness arrived after the crash happened. 

But Monday morning another witness came forward and told police a large, white sedan with damage to its front passenger side and windshield was involved in the crash. 

The witness provided additional details to investigators but police said they would not release that information. 

Police are asking anyone with information about the crash to call Detective Ken Giger at 303-739-6994. 

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Man killed outside Aurora bar

AURORA | A man was shot and killed Friday night outside an Aurora bar, police said. 
The shooting happened around 11 p.m. Friday outside a bar in the 800 block of Dayton Street.

Police said when they responded, they found a wounded man in the parking lot of a bar. The man was rushed to an area hospital where he later died.

The victim’s name has not been released.

Investigators were scouring the outdoor crime scene Friday night and Saturday in search of evidence, police said.

Police have not released information about a possible suspect.

Police are asking anyone with information about the shooting to call Detective Gretchen Fronapfel at 303-739-6013 or Crime Stoppers at 720-913-STOP (7867). 

Crime Stoppers is offering up to $2,000 for information that leads to the arrest and conviction of the killer.

Hit and run leaves man dead

AURORA | Police say they have little information about a vehicle that struck and killed a 41-year-old man early Sunday near East First Avenue and Havana Street.

The crash happened shortly before 2:30 a.m. about 500 feet south of the intersection, police said.

Royce Wallace was crossing Havana when a southbound vehicle hit him.
The vehicle then fled the scene.

Wallace was rushed to an area hospital where he died Sunday, police said.

The only witness police have is the person who found Wallace laying in the street, police said, and that person didn’t see the crash happen.

Police aren’t sure what kind of vehicle struck Wallace and sure how long Wallace was allaying in the street before he was found around 2:30 a.m.

Investigators are hoping to determine what kind of vehicle was involved based on some evidence left at the scene, police said.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Auto theft way down in Aurora

AURORA | Here is a link to a story we ran in our weekend edition about auto theft in Aurora. 

Long story short, people just don't steal cars like they used to. 

Sentencing Tuesday in dog's death

Craig Deering

AURORA | A 69-year-old Aurora man who killed his neighbor’s dog with a pellet gun last spring is set for sentencing next week.

Craig Deering pleaded guilty Jan. 3 to a misdemeanor count of animal cruelty stemming from the May shooting death of his neighbor’s dog, Kaci. 

At his sentencing Tuesday afternoon, Deering faces a sentence of up to 18 months in county jail and a fine of up to $5,000, prosecutors said. 

In an email last week, Kaci’s owner, Dan Foat, as well as neighbors said they hop Deering gets jail time rather than a lesser sentence like probation. 

Deering was arrested May 4 on charges of animal cruelty and discharging a weapon in the city, both misdemeanors, after police say he shot Kaci.

The charges were initially filed in Aurora Municipal Court, but city prosecutors said a few days after the shooting they felt the case warranted the more-serious felony charge and turned the case over to county prosecutors.

Foat, as well as her neighbors, lobbied prosecutors to file felony charges, arguing the crime was too serious for a lesser charge. 

Former CCA employee gets 6 years

AURORA | A former employee at Community College of Aurora accused of mailing threats to government officials has been sentenced to six years in federal prison. 

Federal prosecutors announced the sentence for Jay Stuart DeVaughn, 42, Friday afternoon.

Click below for the release from the US Attorney’s Office in Denver. 

Court dates loom in '98 stabbing

Kevin McKinney

AURORA | A man charged with murder last year in connection with a 1998 Aurora stabbing is set to appear in court next week.

Kevin Lewayne McKinney, 40, is set to appear in court Feb. 4 for a status conference and Feb. 7 for a preliminary hearing, according to prosecutors. McKinney does not yet have a trial date set.

McKinney was charged with murder last March after police said DNA evidence connected him to the 1998 stabbing death of Diane Caldwell, who was found dead in an Aurora drainage ditch.

He is currently serving a lengthy sentence for numerous charges in the Sterling Correctional Facility stemming from a 1999 attempted murder in Arapahoe County, according to state records. He isn’t up for parole in that case until 2016.

Caldwell, who was 47 when she was killed, was found dead in a drainage ditch near South Buckley Road and East Ohio Avenue on Nov. 23, 1998. She had been stabbed multiple times.

Two due in court in Pinkus slaying

Steven Bassett
AURORA | Two of the three men arrested last fall in connection with a slaying at an Aurora hotel and burglary at a nearby home are set to appear in court next week.

Steven Wayne Bassett, 27, and Maliek Bailey, 35, are scheduled for preliminary hearings Feb. 4 in Arapahoe County Court.

Both men, along with a third co-defendant, Robert Harper, 18, face murder and other charges in connection with the Oct. 15 slaying of Michael Pinkus, 51, at the Crestwood Suites Hotel. They also face charges in connection with a burglary that night at Pinkus’ home in the 14200 of East Baltic Place.

Maliek Bailey
At the preliminary hearing, a judge is set to rule whether there is enough evidence for Bassett and Bailey to stand trial.

The hearing likely will include some of the first public discussion from police and prosecutors about what happened that night at Pinkus’ home and later at the hotel. Since police announced Bassett’s arrest in the days after Pinkus’ slaying, court files in the case have been sealed due to a judge’s order.

Harper’s preliminary hearing is scheduled for later in February.

Police said after Pinkus’ death that the night he was killed, two men, including Bassett, robbed his house on East Adriatic Place, a short distance from the hotel. He later went to the hotel, where he was killed.

The counts against Bassett and Bailey include felony murder, burglary, robbery, larceny and kidnapping, according to Colorado Bureau of Investigation records.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

RTD unveils yellow yield light

AURORA | State officials are hoping a flashing yellow light on the back of RTD buses will help remind motorists to yield to buses on Colorado streets. 

RTD, along with the Colorado State Patrol and Denver police, unveiled the new “Yield to Bus Program” during a press conference Tuesday in Downtown Denver. 

Under a state law passed in 2009, motorists are required to yield to buses when the yellow light on the back of a bus is flashing. The light’s will flash when a bus is trying to re-enter traffic after routine stops. Failing to yield can result in a ticket and fine ranging $15 to $100.

About 1,000 buses, at a cost of about $400 per bus, will have the flashing lights installed on the rear, in the top corner on the driver’s side, RTD said. 

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Feds auctioning ponzi schemer's stuff

AURORA | Federal agents announced today they will auction off some of convicted Ponzi schemer Shawn Merriman’s possessions this weekend. 

The auction is set for Saturday at a Denver auction house. 

Click below for the whole release from the United States Attorney’s Office in Denver.

AdCo sheriff: Teen rammed deputies

AURORA | A 19-year-old driver and a 24-year-old Aurora woman are in custody after the Adams County sheriff’s office said the teen tried to ram deputies and led them on a chase early Tuesday morning.

The incident started when deputies tried to stop a “suspicions vehicle” around 1 a.m. near East 73rd Avenue and Pecos Street in unincorporated Adams County. 

The driver, later identified as Alejandro Jaimez, 19, of Denver, sped away from deputies after the stop, revving his engine and speeding in reverse toward several deputies, according to a statement from the Adams County sheriff’s office. 

Jaimez then rammed a marked patrol car before speeding onto eastbound Highway 36. 

The statement said he lost control, slamming into a retaining wall at the Interstate 25 interchange. 

When deputies finally stopped him, Jaimez resisted arrest, the statement said, and deputies had to use a K-9 to subdue him. 

Jaimez was taken to an area hospital for treatment before being booked into Adams County Jail on charges of first degree assault, false reporting and vehicular eluding. He is also being held on several warrants, including one for a parole violation.  

Deputies also arrested Sylvia Sandoval, 24, of Aurora, who was in the car when police initially stopped it but not during the chase, on charges of possession of a controlled substance and on a warrant for theft.  

Monday, January 24, 2011

Search for violent man continues

AURORA | Police said Monday they were still searching for a man with a history of domestic violence wanted on several felony charges. 

Joseph Moron, 35, is wanted on two warrants accusing him of felony stalking, felony violating a restraining order and felony burglary. All the charges are domestic violence related, police said. 

A spokeswoman for the department last week said the warrants for Moron were issued Wednesday. On Monday, she said officers hadn’t found him yet. 

Moron frequents bars near East Iliff Avenue and South Buckley Road, police said. 

Police described him as a white male, 5 feet, 9 inches tall, 205 pounds with brown hair and brown eyes. State records say he has tattoos on his stomach, back and left arm. 

Moron has been arrested nine times in Colorado since 2000, according to Colorado Bureau of Investigation records. The charges included larceny, burglary, domestic violence and assault. 

Police are asking anyone with information about Moron to call police.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Coach gets 18 months in sex case

James Curtis Craig III
AURORA | An Aurora gymnastics coach convicted of attempted sexual assault on a teenage girl was sentenced to 18 months in prison Friday, prosecutors said.

James Curtis Craig III, 36, was convicted of attempted sexual assault on a child by a person in a position of trust after a week-long trial in October. 

The incident occurred in August 2009 at the Saddle Rock School of Gymnastics, 5940 S. Gun Club Road, according to police. Police said Craig inappropriately touched a girl he was coaching there. Craig no longer works at the school.

“He abused her trust. He crossed the line,” Deputy District Attorney Gary Dawson said in a statement announcing the sentence. “She did the right thing and immediately reported the sexual assault.” 

Slight jump in crime in 2010

AURORA | After eight consecutive years that saw crime fall in Colorado’s third-largest city, crime in Aurora rose slightly in 2010.

The uptick — a total of 0.6 percent — represented an additional 76 crimes compared to 2009, police said, and was driven largely by increases in property crimes like burglary and larceny.  

Violent crime was down 4.3 percent, despite one more murder in 2010than in 2009 and 10 more aggravated assaults. 

Car accidents fell 1.5 percent in 2010, including a 40 percent drop in fatal accidents.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Cops: Search on for man with violent past

Joseph Moron

AURORA | Police are searching for a man with a history of domestic violence wanted on several felony charges. 

Joseph Moron, 35, is wanted on two warrants accusing him of felony stalking, felony violating a restraining order and felony burglary. All the charges are domestic violence related, police said. 

Aurora police Sgt. Cassidee Carlson, a spokeswoman for the department, said the warrants for Moron were issued Wednesday but, despite searching, officers have not been able to find him. 

Carlson said police are particularly concerned for Moron’s ex-wife, who has a protection order against him and who he has harmed before. 

“This isn’t stopping and we’re not able to track him down,” Carlson said. 

Man gets 20 years for '09 stabbing

AURORA | One of two men charged with murder after a 2009 slaying near Hinkley High School was sentenced to 20 years in prison this week. 

Juan Carlos-Escobar, 19, had faced a first-degree murder charge in connection with the August 2009 slaying of David Ricardo Natividad, 20, near East 12th Avenue and Chambers Road. 

According to court records, prosecutors dropped that charge and others against Carlos-Escobar after he pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit second-degree murder and to committing a violent crime. 

At a sentencing hearing Wednesday, a judge sentenced Carlos-Escobar to 20 years in prison with credit for the 440 days he has spent behind bars since his 2009 arrest. 

Carlos-Escobar’s co-defendant, Ruben Junior Rodriguez, 23, remains in jail on a first-degree murder charge. He is scheduled to appear in court next April 8 with a trial set for later this year. 

Charges dropped against Bronco

AURORA | Charges have been dropped against a former Denver Bronco accused of beating his girlfriend last month at his Aurora apartment, the Associated Press is reporting. 

Charges against Kevin Alexander were dropped Thursday after his accuser failed to appear in court, AP reported. 

Click this link for the full story. 

Report: Cops search for 'violent' man

AURORA | Channel 9 in Denver is reporting Aurora police are searching for a man with a history of violence wanted on several warrants. 

Joseph Moron, 35, is wanted on several charges, including stalking, kidnapping assault and burglary, the television station reported. 

He is know to frequent the area near South Buckley Road and East Iliff Avenue, Channel 9 said. 

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Johnson's first name sparks confusion

Marquesa Johnson
AURORA | There is some confusion today about how to spell Marquesa Johnson’s first name. 

Johnson pleaded guilty Wednesday to being an accessory to a 2009 slaying at a north Aurora motel. 

Records at the Arapahoe County Jail and at the Arapahoe County Justice Center spell it the way we have since Johnson’s December 2009 arrest, that’s “Marquesa.” At the time of the arrest, police also spelled her name that way.

But today police said their records spell the name without an “r.”

And when I ran a state criminal record check on her, the Colorado Bureau of Investigation also spells it that way, “Maquesa.” (CBI also lists aliases of Darnisha, Damisha and Maquessa, but no Marquesa).

This isn’t the first time we’ve had an issue with a defendant’s name. In the case of Perish Carter, the prison, jail, courthouse and police all seemed to have a different spelling. A deputy told me last year that the courts had been spelling his name wrong for years, but because the misspelling had become widely used and widely accepted, they were going to keep using it. 

In Carter’s case, we stick with “Perish” because that’s the way the prison system spells it, and at the prison he has to wear a name tag with his name spelled that way. 

As for Johnson, we are going to stick with the original spelling we used to avoid too much confusion. 

Click below for the latest version of the story —which includes a line at the end about the name confusion — as well as mugs of Turner and Godfrey.


Johnson takes plea in Riviera murder

The room where Williams was slain.
Click to enlarge. Photo by Heather L. Smith
AURORA | One of three people charged with murder in connection with a 2009 slaying at an East Colfax Avenue motel accepted a plea deal Wednesday morning. 

Marquesa Johnson, 22, pleaded guilty to being an accessory to a crime, a Class 4 felony, in exchange for prosecutors dropping 12 other charges against her, including first-degree murder and kidnapping stemming from the Dec. 39, 2009, slaying of Kendrick Williams, 25. 

Johnson, who entered the plea in Arapahoe County District Court, is required to testify truthfully against her two codefendants, Darrius Turner, 20, and Riley Godfrey, 28, prosecutors said. 

At a sentencing hearing in May, Johnson faces between one and 12 years in prison on the accessory charge. She has already served more than a year in jail since her arrest a few minutes after the slaying. 

Johnson was expected to be released on bond from jail later Wednesday. 

Prosecutors said Williams’ family was aware of the plea agreement for Johnson.

Turner and Godfrey, who remain jailed,  are set to go on trial later this spring. 

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Cops: Man drowned girlfriend, hanged self

AURORA | A man found dead with his common-law wife Saturday drowned the woman before hanging himself, police said Tuesday. 

Art Medina, 32, and Maria Duron, 23, were found dead around 5 a.m. Saturday in the home they shared in the 2500 block of South Killarney Court.

The Arapahoe County coroner’s office performed autopsies on the couple Tuesday and said Duron’s death was a homicide and she died of drowning. Medina’s death was a suicide and the coroner’s office said he died from asphyxia due to hanging. 

Police found Medina and Duron dead after responding to the home in southeast Aurora on a welfare check. 

CBI launches ID theft hotline

AURORA | The Colorado Bureau of Investigation today announced a new hotline for victims of identity theft. 

Callers can reach the hotline 24 hours a day at 1-855-443-3489, CBI said in a statement Tuesday morning. 

The statement said the program is the first of its kind in the state and possibly the first of its kind in the nation. 

Click below to read the entire CBI release. 

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Cop with two DUIs fired

AURORA | An Aurora police officer arrested on DUI charges twice in less than a year has been fired, police said Wednesday.

Officer Marc Sears, a six-year Aurora police veteran previously assigned to the police academy, was fired Jan. 5, a spokeswoman for the department said. 

Sears was previously suspended for a month following his second arrest, which happened last March in Parker after police there say he crashed his SUV into a light pole while driving drunk.

That arrest came while Sears had a trial pending on DUI charges stemming from May 2009, when he crashed a motorcycle in Parker.

Sears was eventually convicted of DUI for the first arrest and his lawyer, Chris Charles, said Wednesday that charges in the second case were dropped in September and Sears was charged only with careless driving. 

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Police searching for missing 80-year-old woman

AURORA | Police are searching for an 80-year-old woman who went missing Monday from her home near Colfax and Boston Street.

Mya Seing left her home in northwest Aurora around noon Monday to go to a store and hasn't been seen since.
Police said Seing does not speak English and officers are particularly worried about her because of the cold weather.

Click below for the Aurora Police Department's release.

Madrid charged with murder in tot's death

Theodore Madrid
AURORA | Prosecutors today filed a first-degree murder charge against Theodore Madrid in connection with last week’s slaying of 2-year-old Caden Rodgers. 

Madrid, 30, was originally charged with felony child abuse after police found Rodgers’ seriously injured Wednesday at the Aurora apartment Madrid shared with Rodgers’ mother. 

When Rodgers’ died Thursday evening, police said they planned to upgrade the charges against Madrid, who has been in jail since his arrest last week. 

In addition to the murder charge, Madrid faces two counts of child abuse resulting in death. 
Police said they responded to the apartment in the 100 block of Dayton Street on Wednesday after Rodgers’ mother, who left the toddler in Madrid’s care while she was at work, returned home to find him seriously injured. 

The Arapahoe County coroner’s office has not released Rodgers’ cause of death, but said they completed his autopsy Monday. 

Madrid, who is being held without bond at the Arapahoe County Jail, is due in court Jan. 31 for a status conference. 

Monday, January 10, 2011

Report: No drugs in Aussie twin who died in gun range suicide pact last year

AURORA | Channel 7 in Denver is reporting that toxicology results are in for the Australian sister who killed herself in a suicide pact with her twin sister last year at a local shooting range. 

Kristin Hermeler did not have drugs or alcohol in her system when she died, the television station reported. 

Hermeler died after the Nov. 15 shooting at the Family Shooting Center at Cherry Creek State Park. Candice Hermeler also shot herself but survived and told investigators a few days later that she and her sister shot themselves as part of a suicide pact.

Cop in kid porn case resigns

Former APD Sgt. Morgan Sellman
AURORA | The Aurora police DARE coordinator arrested late last year on child pornography charges has resigned, police announced Monday. 

Sgt. Morgan Sellman, 39, a 14-year Aurora police veteran, had been on unpaid leave since his December arrest in El Paso County, police said. 

Sellman’s resignation took effect Monday, police said. 

Sellman worked as the department’s quartermaster and DARE coordinator, police said after his arrest.

According to Colorado Springs investigators, Westminster police tipped off El Paso County investigators that Sellman was likely in possession of child pornography. Sellman lives in Peyton, near Colorado Springs.

Investigators were granted a search warrant to retrieve evidence from Sellman’s home while he wasn’t there.

El Paso officials said that at this time it does not appear that Sellman had any personal contact with a victim or used Aurora police computers to store child pornography images.

Colorado Springs police said he faces up to 12 years in prison if convicted of the charges.