Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Search on for missing woman

Lucy Orji

AURORA | Police are searching for a missing 60-year-old woman with dementia who disappeared from her north Aurora home Tuesday afternoon. 

Lucy Rasberry Orji hasn’t been seen since she around 2:30 p.m. Tuesday when she walked away from her home near East Colfax Avenue and Havana Street, according to a bulletin from the Colorado Bureau of Investigation. 

The bulletin said Orji was wearing a long denim skirt with gray sweatpants underneath and possibly a red lightweight jacket or grey hooded sweatshirt when she left her home. 

She is described as a black woman, 5 feet, 3 inches tall, 135 pounds with brown eyes and black hair in braids. She also wears glasses. 

The bulletin asked anyone with information about Orji to call police at 303-627-3100.

Aurora Fire Dept.: Fatal Apt. blaze was an accident

AURORA | An apartment fire that left a 66-year-old woman dead last month started as an accidental cooking fire, an Aurora fire spokesman said Wednesday. 

Aurora fire Capt. Al Robnett said in a statement Wednesday that police and fire investigators determined the March 26 fire at the Aspenwood Apartments was an accident after a lengthy review. 

Karen Dias, 66, died from injuries she sustained in a fall from an upper floor during the fire, according to the Arapahoe County coroner’s office. The coroner’s office said Dias’ manner death —whether a homicide, accident or something else — wouldn’t be determined until fire and police officials complete their investigation. 

The fire also left 15 people injured but those people are expected to survive. 

Wednesday’s statement also said the fire caused about $500,000 in damage. 

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Arrest made in mall bombing

Earl Moore

AURORA | Police in Boulder this morning arrested the man authorities say tried to set off a bomb at Southwest Plaza mall last week, the FBI announced. 

Earl Albert Moore, 65, was arrested this morning near 3600 Table Mesa Dr. in Boulder, the FBI said. 

Moore is accused  of trying to set off a bomb in a hallway at the mall April 20. The FBI had been searching for him since.

Moore has a minor connection to Aurora, having been arrested here previously. 

On Monday, Aurora police released the arrest report from Moore’s 2004 arrest on felony shoplifting charges in Aurora. 

In the Aurora case, police say Moore stole 23 memory cards valued at a total of $1,500 from a Costco store on South Havana Street. He later told police he “had to pay bills” and saw the cards for sale at a flea market for $20 each. 

According to Colorado Bureau of Investigation records, Moore was sentenced to six months in prison on the shoplifting charge and credit for almost four years spent in jail before his sentencing. 

The FBI has a press conference planned for this afternoon to discuss the case further. 

Correction: Name wrong on robbery story

AURORA | A suspected bank robber arrested last week was 41-year-old Thomas Peebles, not Thomas Peels as we previously reported. 

Police sent us the corrected name this morning. 

Peebles was arrested Friday a short time after police say he robbed a TCF Bank near East Sixth Avenue and Chambers Road. 

According to Colorado Bureau of Investigation records, Peebles has a lengthy arrest record dating back to 1989. His rap sheet includes arrests on theft, weapons and assault charges. 

At the time of his arrest last week, Peebles was on parole after serving prison time on a 1997 assault charge and a 2006 menacing charge, according to the Colorado Department of Corrections. 

In addition to the robbery and menacing charges stemming from last week’s bank robbery, Peebles has also been charged with a parole violation. 

Search continues for disabled man

Braulio Guerrero

AURORA | Police continued to search Tuesday for a missing 20-year-old man who investigators say has the mental capacity of a 7-year-old child. 

Police say Braulio Guerrero, also known as Braulio Guerrero-Valdez, was last seen around 4 p.m. last Tuesday in the 1300 block Sable Boulevard. 

Guerrero left his house on foot with no money, no cell phone and no identification, police said. Guerrero, who speaks Spanish and little English, has a medical condition and does not have his medication with him, police said.  Police have spoken to Guerrero’s family, searched the neighborhood and checked with local hospitals but have not found him as of Friday afternoon. 

A police spokeswoman said in an email Tuesday that Guerrero remained missing. 
In a statement Friday, police said there is nothing to indicate Guerrero’s disappearance is a result of foul play.  

Guerrero is described as a Hispanic male, 5 feet, 7inches tall, 160 pounds with short black hair and brown eyes. He was last seen wearing a long sleeve white T-shirt under a blue T-shirt with a white stripe across the chest, blue jeans, and black tennis shoes.  

Police are asking anyone with information about Guerrero’s whereabouts to call 303-627-3100. 

Monday, April 25, 2011

Opening arguments Tues. in DeLeon case

Marco DeLeon

AURORA | Jury selection started Monday in the trial of an Aurora man who police say fatally shot his girlfriend last year. 

Marco Antonio DeLeon, 23, faces a first-degree murder charge in connection with the April 12, 2010, slaying of Dakota Fresh, 19.

Opening arguments are scheduled for Tuesday morning, according to a spokeswoman fro the Adams County District attorney’s office.

The trial is scheduled to last five days, according to court records.

DeLeon was taken into custody the day of the slaying on an attempted first-degree murder charge. Fresh, DeLeon’s live-in girlfriend, died a few days after the shooting at a local hospital; DeLeon’s charge then was upgraded to first-degree murder.

DeLeon is being held in the Adams County Jail without bond.

According to court records, several expert witnesses are expected to testify for the defense during the trial. 

Note: I plan to be in court Tuesday morning for openings. I will post updates here and on the twitter feed as soon as I can. 
-Brandon

Mall bomb suspect has Aurora link

Earl Moore

AURORA | The man the FBI says tried to set off a bomb at Southwest Plaza mall was previously arrested in Aurora on shoplifting charges, police said Monday. 

Earl Albert Moore, 65, is accused  of trying to set off a bomb in a hallway at the mall April 20. The FBI has been searching for Moore since.

On Monday, Aurora police released the arrest report from Moore’s 2004 arrest on felony shoplifting charges in Aurora. 

In the Aurora case, police say Moore stole 23 memory cards valued at a total of $1,500 from a Costco store on South Havana Street. He later told police he “had to pay bills” and saw the cards for sale at a flea market for $20 each. 

According to Colorado Bureau of Investigation records, Moore was sentenced to six months in prison on the shoplifting charge and credit for almost four years spent in jail before his sentencing. 

CBI said Moore also uses the aliases Earl Buchanan, Donald Morelli, Gary Steele and Morelli Buchanan. 

The FBI described Moore as a white male, 200 to 225 pounds, between 6 feet and 6 feet 2 inches tall, with a bald head, blue eyes and a grey mustache. He has several tattoos and was last seen wearing glasses. 

Moore is considered armed and dangerous, the FBI said, and the public is urged to call 911 if they know where he is or the Jefferson County Tip Line at 303-271-5615.

ArapCo fire ban lifted

AURORA | Arapahoe County Sheriff Grayson Robinson lifted the ban on open burning Tuesday, saying fire conditions in unincorporated parts of the county have improved. 

In a statement, Robinson said recent precipitation and forecasts for more meant the ban wasn’t necessary. 

In addition to all unincorporated areas of the county, fires are also again allowed in Cherry Creek State Park, the statement said. 

Robinson announced the ban in March, saying fire conditions in unincorporated parts of the county were extremely dangerous. 

While the ban has been lifted, Robinson said fire danger remains and residents need to be careful with open flames. 

“Although the level of danger for fires has modified, everyone must continue to exercise reasonable safety precautions, as well as extreme caution, when engaged in open burning or any fire,” the statement said. 

Depending on weather conditions, the ban could be reinstated, the statement said. 

Jury selection underway in DeLeon trial

Marco DeLeon

AURORA | Jury selection is underway in the trial of an Aurora man who police say fatally shot his girlfriend last year. 

Marco Antonio DeLeon, 23, faces a first-degree murder charge in connection with the April 12, 2010, slaying of Dakota Fresh, 19.

His trial is scheduled to start today and last five days, according to court records.

DeLeon was taken into custody the day of the slaying on an attempted first-degree murder charge. Fresh, DeLeon’s live-in girlfriend, died a few days after the shooting at a local hospital; DeLeon’s charge then was upgraded to first-degree murder.

DeLeon is being held in the Adams County Jail without bond.

According to court records, several expert witnesses are expected to testify for the defense during the trial. 

Note: I’m not sure when opening statements will be delivered in this case, but I am heading to the courthouse in Brighton this afternoon. I will post updates here and on the twitter feed as soon as I can. 
-Brandon

Report: Employee shot in Saturday robbery

AURORA | A robber shot an employee during a robbery Saturday morning at an Aurora Family Dollar, according to a Channel 7 report

The robbery happened around 8:30 a.m. Saturday at the store at 911 S. Havana St.

A police spokeswoman said two men entered the store and demanded money. During the robbery, one of the men shot an employee. 

The employee is expected to recover. 

Police said the two men fled on foot. 

Note: I have a call in to APD on this and will update the story when I hear back. 
-Brandon

Bank robbery could be Aurora's first of 2011

AURORA | A robbery last week at a TCF Bank near East Sixth Avenue and Chambers Road may have been Aurora’s first bank robbery of 2011. 

There have been at least a dozen bank robberies reported in the metro area since the first of the year, but, based on a quick search of FBI press releases, none occurred in Aurora. 

The last Aurora robbery, based on the search, happened Dec. 13, 2010, at the Bank of the West at 1389 S. Havana St. 

In that robbery, two suspects, armed with handguns and wearing hooded sweatshirts, gloves and bandanas over their faces, stormed the bank and fled with an undisclosed amount of cash. 

Investigators dubbed the pair the “3-2-1 Bandits,” but a spokesman for the FBI in Denver declined to say why investigators chose that name. One of the robbers is also a suspect in a separate December robbery at a bank in Englewood. 

In Friday’s robbery, police arrested Thomas Peels, 41, on robbery charges. 

Friday, April 22, 2011

Police searching for missing disabled man

Braulio Guerrero

AURORA | The search continued Friday for a missing 20-year-old man who police say has the mental capacity of a 7-year-old child. 

Police say Braulio Guerrero, also known as Braulio Guerrero-Valdez, was last seen around 4 p.m. Tuesday in the 1300 block Sable Boulevard. 

Guerrero left his house on foot with no money, no cell phone and no identification, police said. Guerrero, who speaks Spanish and little English, has a medical condition and does not have his medication with him, police said. Police have spoken to Guerrero’s family, searched the neighborhood and checked with local hospitals but have not found him as of Friday afternoon. 

In a statement Friday, police said there is nothing to indicate Guerrero’s disappearance is a result of foul play.  

Guerrero is described as a Hispanic male, 5 feet, 7inches tall, 160 pounds with short black hair and brown eyes. He was last seen wearing a long sleeve white T-shirt under a blue T-shirt with a white stripe across the chest, blue jeans, and black tennis shoes.  

Police are asking anyone with information about Guerrero’s whereabouts to call 303-627-3100. 

Arrest made in 'Birdman' slaying

AURORA | Police have made an arrest in the March 16 slaying of a popular 53-year-old man found slain in a front yard near East Colfax Avenue and Havana Street. 

Jeffrey Foos, 49, was arrested March 27, 11 days after Timothy Blackburn, 53, was found dead in front of a home in the 10300 block of East 16th Avenue, a block northwest of Colfax and Havana.

Police said Friday that Foos and Blackburn were “acquaintances,” but declined to discuss further details about the case. 

Foos, who is being held without bond at the Adams County Jail, is due in court May 20 for a preliminary hearing, according to court records. 

Police have not said how Blackburn was killed. 

In the days after Blackburn’s slaying, police released his mug shot in hopes that someone would recognize the well-known northwest Aurora resident who went by the nicknames “Bird” and “Birdman.”

According to state records, Foos has been arrested dozens of times since the early 1980s on charges including assault, failure to appear in court and harassment. 
Police did not release Foos’ mug shot Friday.

Judge says Bell should stand trial

Scott Bell

AURORA | A judge said Friday there was ample evidence for a man accused of killing a man last year at an East Colfax Avenue motel to stand trial.

Scott Damon Bell, 38, appeared in Adams County Court on Friday for a preliminary hearing, according to court records. 

After the hearing, a judge ruled there was probable cause for Bell to stand trial on a murder charge stemming from the May 2010 slaying of David Jeffrey Carpenter, 41, at the Carriage Motor Inn Motel, 9201 E. Colfax Ave.

According to jail records, Bell had been in the jail since December on a DUI charge when he was charged with Carpenter’s murder in January.

He is set to appear in court next month for arraignment .

In the hours after Carpenter’s death, witnesses told police that a group of five men, including Carpenter and the gunman, were smoking crack in a motel room prior to the shooting, according to an arrest affidavit filed against Bell.

A fight later broke out and police say Bell, who had been brandishing a pistol that day, killed Carpenter. 

DeLeon trial set in girlfriend's slaying

Marco DeLeon

AURORA | An Aurora man who police say fatally shot his girlfriend last year is scheduled to go on trial next week, according to court records.

Marco Antonio DeLeon, 23, faces a first-degree murder charge in connection with the April 12, 2010, slaying of Dakota Fresh, 19.

His trial is scheduled to start April 25 and last five days, according to court records.

DeLeon was taken into custody the day of the slaying on an attempted first-degree murder charge. Fresh, DeLeon’s live-in girlfriend, died a few days after the shooting at a local hospital; DeLeon’s charge then was upgraded to first-degree murder.

DeLeon is being held in the Adams County Jail without bond.

According to an arrest affidavit filed against DeLeon, police suspected him of being the shooter shortly after finding Fresh in the couple’s apartment at 2001 Fulton St.

A friend of the couple’s called police early that morning after a distraught DeLeon called him saying Fresh was dead. When police arrived at the home, they found Fresh unconscious with a gunshot wound to her head. A .40-caliber shell casing lay on the floor near her.

For the full story, click here.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

**UPDATE** College student from Aurora dies

AURORA | A University of Northern Colorado student from Aurora who police say jumped from a second-story balcony during a drunken dispute at a Greeley fraternity house Saturday died last night, his family said. 

Ross Higuchi, a 19-year-old student at UNC and Smoky Hill High School graduate, was injured around 1:20 a.m. Saturday morning during a post-initiation party at the Delta Tau Delta fraternity house at 1602 11th Ave., according to a report from Channel 7. 

Haguchi’s family posted a message on their Facebook page Tuesday night that said Haguchi had died. 


“Tonight Ross took his final breaths and passed peacefully into Heaven. His organs have been donated to pass on the gift of life to others. Please continue to pray for his family. Ross can finally now rest in peace,” the statement said.

Higuchi had been accused of damaging the door leading onto the balcony by forcing it open and intentionally damaging the fraternity’s sign on the balcony, police said.

During the disagreement, Higuchi jumped off the balcony and was unconscious when police and paramedics arrived, police said. 

The television reported Monday that the college freshman hadn’t regained consciousness since the incident. 

In an email to Channel 7, a friend of Higuchi’s said the teen was being treated for a severe head injury.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Probe of fatal fire could be complete this week

AURORA | The investigation into an apartment fire that left a 66-year-old woman dead last month could be complete later this week, an Aurora fire spokesman said Monday. 

Aurora fire Capt. Al Robnett said the investigation into the March 26 fire at the Aspenwood Apartments near East Sixth Avenue and Potomac Street will determine whether the blaze was started deliberately. 

Karen Dias, 66, died from injuries she sustained in a fall from an upper floor during the fire, according to the Arapahoe County coroner’s office. The coroner’s office said Dias’ manner death —whether a homicide, accident or something else — won’t be determined until fire and police officials complete their investigation. 

The fire also left 11 people injured but those people are expected to survive. 

Teen gets six years in Pinkus slaying

Robert Harper

AURORA | An 18-year-old man who police say helped rob and kill a man last fall at an Aurora hotel was sentenced to six years in a youthful offender program Friday.

The sentence for Robert Lee Harper also includes a suspended 24-year prison term that kicks in if Harper doesn’t successfully complete six years at the Colorado Youthful Offender Program, a boot camp-style program for young convicts.

Before accepting a plea agreement in February, Harper had been charged with first-degree murder in connection with the Oct. 15 slaying of Michael Pinkus at a south Aurora hotel.

Under the terms of the plea agreement, Harper pleaded guilty to robbery and burglary in exchange for prosecutors dropping the other charges against him.

Harper’s two co-defendants, Maliek Bailey, 36, and Steven Wayne Bassett, 27, still face a murder charge. Bailey is set for trial later this year and Bassett is due in court for a hearing in May.

For the full story, click here.

UNC student from Aurora hurt after balcony jump

AURORA | A University of Northern Colorado student from Aurora is in critical condition after police say he jumped from a second-story balcony during a drunken dispute at a Greeley fraternity house. 

Ross Higuchi, an 18-year-old student at UNC and Smoky Hill High School graduate, was injured around 1:20 a.m. Saturday morning during a post-initiation party at the Delta Tau Delta fraternity house at 1602 11th Ave., according to a report from Channel 7. 

Higuchi was in critical condition Sunday at North Colorado Medical Center, a hospital spokeswoman said.

Higuchi had been accused of damaging the door leading onto the balcony by forcing it open and intentionally damaging the fraternity’s sign on the balcony, police said.

During the disagreement, Higuchi jumped off the balcony and was unconscious when police and paramedics arrived, police said. 

In an email to Channel 7, a friend of Higuchi’s said the teen is being treated for a severe head injury.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Harper sentencing this afternoon

Robert Lee Harper

AURORA| Sentencing for one of three people charged with murder in connection with the slaying of a man last fall at a south Aurora hotel is set for this afternoon. 

Robert Lee Harper, 18, pleaded guilty to burglary and robbery on Feb. 24, according to prosecutors. In exchange for the plea, prosecutors dropped several other charges against Harper, including first-degree murder and kidnapping.

His sentencing hearing is set for 1:30 p.m. today at the Arapahoe COunty Justice Center in Centennial. 

Harper was charged along with Maliek Bailey, 36, and Steven Wayne Bassett, 27, in connection with the Oct. 15 slaying of Michael Pinkus at the Crestwood Suites motel.

It wasn’t clear from court records last week what sentence Harper may face at his April 15 hearing or if he is expected to testify against Bailey and Bassett. If he is required to  testify, the sentencing could be delayed until after the other two go to trial.

Note: I plan to be in the courtroom for today’s sentencing. Follow the twitter feed (@sentinelbrandon) for updates and check back here later today for more. 
-Brandon

Missing woman case enters third week

Kenia Monge

AURORA | Thursday marked two weeks since Kenia Monge disappeared from a Denver night club after a night out with friends. 

The 19-year-old Aurora woman hasn’t been seen since April 1 when she left her purse and cell phone with friends at the 24K Lounge in Downtown Denver.

Channel 7 in Denver is reporting that court documents show a man who said he gave Monge a ride that night acted suspiciously in the hours after Monge’s disappearance. The man has not been charged with a crime. 

Monge is described as 4 feet, 11 inches tall and 115 pounds. She last seen was wearing a black skirt, black jacket and red high-heeled shoes. Denver police are asking anyone with information about Monge to call 720-913-2000.

Guilty plea in 2009 slaying

AURORA | One of two men charged with murder after a 2009 slaying near Hinkley High School pleaded guilty to being an accessory to a crime last week.

Ruben Junior Rodriguez, 23, entered the plea during a court hearing Friday and prosecutors subsequently dropped other charges against him, including first-degree murder, according to court records.

Rodriguez was set to go on trial later this month, but the trial was cancelled after Friday’s plea.

Rodriguez along with Juan Carlos-Escobar, 19, were charged with murder in connection with the August 2009 slaying of David Ricardo Natividad, 20, near East 12th Avenue and Chambers Road.

According to court records, Carlos-Escobar pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit second-degree murder and to committing a violent crime in January and received a 20-year prison sentence.

Rodriguez is scheduled to appear in court April 21 for sentencing. It wasn’t clear from court records what sentence he might face.

For the full story, click here.

Turner trial pushed back

Darrius Turner

AURORA | The trial for a man charged with murder in connection with a late 2009 slaying at an East Colfax Motel has been pushed back.

Darrius Turner, 21, was set to go on trial April 18 in Arapahoe County District Court.

But during a pretrial-readiness conference last week, the trial was moved to September, according to court records. It wasn’t clear from the records why the trial was delayed.

Turner faces multiple charges, including first-degree murder and kidnapping stemming from the Dec. 29, 2009, slaying of Kendrick Williams, 25.

One of Turner’s co-defendants, Riley Godfrey, 28, was scheduled to go on trial in late February but his lawyer withdrew from the case shortly before the trial could start and the trial was delayed indefinitely. He is scheduled to appear in court April 27.

A third co-defendant, Marquesa Johnson, 22, pleaded guilty in January to being an accessory to a crime, a Class 4 felony, in exchange for prosecutors dropping 12 other charges against her. As part of the plea, Johnson is required to testify truthfully against Godfrey and Turner.

For the full story, click here

Woman ID'd in Thurs. fatal crash

AURORA | The Arapahoe County coroner’s office this morning identified a woman killed in a car accident Thursday near East Sixth Avenue and Potomac Street as Nakeyia Brown of Aurora. 

Brown, 23, died of severe internal injuries, the coroner’s office said. 

According to a Channel 7 report, a Ford F-150 was traveling north Potomac Street near East 6th Avenue, when it crossed the center line, hitting an Oldsmobile sedan in the southbound lanes.

Firefighters had to extricate the driver of the Oldsmobile sedan, who was later pronounced dead at the hospital.

Police said an adult and a child in the Oldsmobile were hospitalized with non life threatening injuries. 

The adult driver of the truck was also hospitalized and is expected to survive.

Police said it isn’t yet clear if speed or alcohol were factors in the crash. 

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Arrests made in Durst and George slayings

Tiffany Durst and Terence George

AURORA | Police have arrested three people in connection with the slayings of an Aurora couple. 

Police said Thursday that Terrence Andre McNeal, 20, Janelle Kimberly Harris, 20, and Tiera Lachae Homes, 19, are all facing murder charges in connection with the slayings of Terence Scott George, 22, and Tiffany Durst, 21. 

Police found George’s body in November at the apartment he shared with Durst near East Mississippi Avenue and South Peoria Street. George died of multiple gunshot wounds, according to the Arapahoe County coroner’s office. 

After police found George’s body, they asked the public for help in finding Durst, who hadn’t been seen since a few days before George was found dead.

Last week, police found Durst’s body near East Yale Avenue and South Chambers Road. 

Police have not said how Durst died but on Thursday called her death a homicide.