Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Woman killed in Tues. auto-ped

AURORA | A pedestrian was killed Tuesday morning after police say she crossed South Sable Boulevard against a walk signal near Centrepoint Drive. 

The woman, whose name was not released, was struck by a blue 1996 Oldsmobile Cutless Sierra around 11:50 a.m. while crossing Sable, police said. 

The driver of Oldsmobile, John Sinquefield, 86, of Aurora, was travelling north on Sable when he drove through a green light at Centrepoint, police said. 

Alcohol and drugs do not appear to be factors in the crash and Sinquefield likely won’t face charges, police said.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Asst. Principal appears in court

AURORA | An assistant principal at a local middle school facing a felony charge amid allegations he asked students to destroy evidence made his first court appearance Friday. 
Anthony Ray Campos, 41, appeared in Arapahoe County court for a scheduling hearing. His arraignment, at which he is expected to enter a plea, is scheduled for July 8, according to prosecutors.

Campos was charged Feb. 11 with solicitation to commit tampering with physical evidence, a Class 6 felony that could carry an 18-month prison term.

Sources say Campos asked three students at Horizon Community Middle School to erase cell phone video of a fight between two girls. One girl had her nose broken during the fight.

The charges exposed a rift between law enforcement agencies that investigated the case, and Cherry Creek Public School District, where a spokeswoman said district officials found no wrongdoing by the administrator.

Arapahoe County District Attorney Carol Chambers said the case is part of an ongoing problem investigators have with the district reporting crime and turning over evidence.

Because the case involves juveniles, police, prosecutors and school district officials have declined to discuss many details about the case, but a mother of one of the girls involved said it all started with a fight at the school in January.

Motorcyclist dies in Sunday crash

AURORA | A motorcyclist died Sunday after crashing his motorcycle in far northeast Aurora, police said. 

The crash happened around 10 a.m. on Picadilly Road a short distance north of East 32nd Parkway.

Police said the motorcyclist, Lars Mickelson, 28, of Denver, was travelling north on Picadilly at a high rate of speed when he lost control, cutting across the southbound lane before slamming into a dirt embankment.

The motorcycle didn’t come into contact with any other vehicles, police said.
Mickelson was rushed to an area hospital but police said he passed away around 2:30 p.m. Sunday.

Investigators are working to determine whether alcohol, drugs or a medical condition played a role in the crash.

Toddler dies after being hit by van

AURORA | A toddler hit by a van in an Aurora parking lot Friday has died, police said. 

The 22-month-old girl was run over by a commercial van in the parking lot of an apartment complex in the 900 block of South Zeno Way just before 3 p.m. Friday, according to a Channel 7 report.

Aurora police confirmed on their Twitter.com account Sunday that the girl had passed away Saturday.

Investigators from the APD Crimes Against Children unit are working to determine if charges should be filed against whomever was responsible for watching the child, who was wandering unattended in the parking lot.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

**UPDATE**Aurora's crime up by one incident

Click the image to enlarge.
AURORA | Major crime in Aurora last year jumped by a single incident, according to statistics released Wednesday. 

Of the six major crime statistics the FBI tracks, Aurora had 11,760 incidents in 2010, up a single incident from 2009, when there were 11,759. 

The six major crimes include murder, robbery, larceny, aggravated assault, rape, burglaries and motor vehicle theft.  

The exact figures released Wednesday are only slightly different from preliminary data released in January but tell essentially the same story: After several years of crime reductions, Aurora’s crime leveled off last year with a very slight increase. 

“It’s remarkable that the agency has been able to reduce crime 8 years in a row, and I guess we were destined to have a year when we couldn’t,” Aurora police Chief Dan Oates said. “You cant always be reducing it.”

The uptick was caused by jumps in larceny, which climbed from 6,945 to 7,090, and burglary, which climbed from 2,073 to 2,307. The numbers the other all the other crimes fell from 2009 to 2010, except murder, which stayed the same with 23 each year. 

Aurora’s violent crime, was down 6 percent from 2009 to 2010, falling from 1,539 to 1,447. 

While crime leveled off last year because of the spike in larceny and burglary, Oates said he didn’t believe the slumping economy was the reason for those two crimes seeing an increase. 

Bell pleads not guilty to murder

Scott Bell

AURORA | A man accused of a killing last year at an East Colfax Avenue motel pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder Wednesday.

Scott Damon Bell, 38, entered the plea in Adams County Court, according to court records. 

He is set to go on trial in October. 

A judge ruled in April there was probable cause for Bell to stand trial on the 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.

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.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

**UPDATE** Wrong-way driver causes I-70 crash

AURORA | A wrong-way driver caused a head-on crash this morning on Interstate 70 near Chambers Road, snarling traffic and leaving both drivers with broken legs, police said. 

The crash happened around 9:50 a.m. when a yellow Nissan Xterra, travelling westbound in an eastbound lane, slammed into a mini van headed eastbound. 

In the minutes before the crash several motorists called police and said the Xterra was going the wrong way on Pena Boulevard near E-470 and reaching speeds of about 80 mph. 

The Xterra driver, later identified as Taylor Payne, 64, of Blanding, Utah, continued in the wrong direction onto I-70, slamming into the green Dodge Caravan near the Chambers Road overpass. 

From E-470 and Pena to Chambers and I-70 is about seven miles. 

Denver police were trying find the Xterra before the crash, police said. 

The driver of the minivan, Steven Jones, 49, of Denver, sustained a fractured sternum, wrist and ankle in the crash and is hospitalized in serious condition. 

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Suspect in Central High shooting to stand trial

The scene near Central after Vargas' shooting.
Photo by Heather L. Smith

AURORA | A few minutes after school let out on a brisk day last December, 16-year-old Karina Vargas stood in front of Aurora Central High School, showing her new puppy to a group of friends. 

That’s when two car loads of gang members — one full of 18th Streeters, the other H2K — pulled up nearby and started jawing back and forth. 

A single bullet ripped through the crowd, striking Karina in the back, leaving the teen paralyzed for life from the belly button down. 

Police say 19-year-old Luis Guzman-Rincon, an 18th Streeter known in the north Aurora neighborhood as “Luigi,” fired a pistol into the crowd that day because he was still mad about a July 2010 fight with rivals from H2K. Members of the gang, which stands for Hard 2 kill, had smacked Guzman-Rincon in the head with a brick during that fight, leaving a sizeable lump and bruise on his forehead. 

On Tuesday, after a brief hearing in Arapahoe County Court, a judge ruled there was ample evidence for Guzman-Rincon to stand trial on several charges related to the Dec. 6, shooting, including attempted first-degree murder. 

Aurora man found dead in Eagle County

Christopher Hodenpel
AURORA | Investigators in Eagle County are asking the public for information about a 38-year-old Aurora man found dead there last week. 

A sheriff’s deputy found Christopher Don Hodenpel’s partially decomposed body May 13 near Edwards, according to a statement from the Eagle County sheriff’s office. The deputy started searching for Hodenpel after workers maintaining a ditch found a backpack filled with cash and his belongings near Colorado Highway 6. 

The statement said Hodenpel had probably been dead in the area for a few days when the deputy found his body. 

An autopsy of Hodenpel found no apparent trauma to his body and a toxicology exam is pending. 

“No obvious cause of death has been determined at this time; however no immediate signs of criminal involvement have been found either,” the statement said.

Hodenpel is described as a Korean male, about 5 feet, 5 inches tall, 125 pounds, with black hair and black eyes. Investigators are asking anyone with information about Hodenpel and why he was in Eagle County to call 970-328-8500 or Eagle County Crime Stoppers at 970-328-7007. 

Monday, May 16, 2011

Hearing delayed for accused cancer faker

Julie Martin

AURORA | A judge Monday delayed for the second time the arraignment for a woman accused of faking cancer and swindling a local charity out of more than $10,000.

Julie Jane Martin, 38, is facing a felony theft charge after police say she lied to officials from the Aurora charity Cops Fighting Cancer about being sick for more than a year, bilking the organization for air travel, hotel stays and other expenses.

She was scheduled to enter a plea at arraignment Monday, but a judge delayed the hearing until June 27, according to court records. It wasn’t clear from the records why the hearing was delayed. 

At a previously-scheduled arraignment in February, Martin’s lawyer asked for a delay of a few months because Martin was set to have surgery to correct her deafness, which she had recently developed.

Martin is currently free on bond. 

End of Sears hearing pushed back

AURORA | The Civil Service Commission hearing for an Aurora police officer trying to get his job back after two DUI arrests lasted longer than officials anticipated. 

The hearing for former Officer Marc Sears started last Monday and was scheduled to finish by the end of last week. But when Friday evening rolled around, lawyers for Sears and the city still had about a half-day worth of work, said Civil Service Commission administrator Matt Cain. 

The last half-day of the hearing is now scheduled to start May 31, Cain said.

A six-year veteran previously assigned to the police academy, Sears was fired Jan. 5. 

He was previously suspended for a month following his second arrest, which happened in March 2010 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 DUI charges in the second case were dropped.

Sears appealed his conviction in the first DUI case and is awaiting a judge’s ruling.

Hate Crime training aims at local, federal partnerships

Thomas Perez (Courtesy US DOJ)

AURORA | Recently-passed federal hate crime legislation can help local police tackle difficult bias-motivated crimes, the nation’s top civil rights prosecutor told federal and local law enforcement Monday. 

Thomas Perez, Assistant United States Attorney General for Civil Rights, told a training conference at the Aurora Municipal Center that the Hate Crime Prevention Act of 2009 allows local police to work with federal prosecutors to try cases that may require more resources than local agencies have. 

“It is not tool that is simply a tool on our fed arsenal. It is a tool for everyone,” Perez told the crowd of local police and federal agents gathered in City Council Chambers. 

One particularly helpful piece of the legislation is that it allows prosecutors to try a group of defendants federally in a single trial, he said. 

Aurora police Chief Dan Oates said trying certain defendants as a group instead of individually can be helpful for victims because it allows them to testify just once, instead of at several trials. 

Monday’s training was important for APD, Oates said, because it keeps local police up-to-date about the options they have at the federal level. 

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Fire destroys south Aurora home

Photo courtesy AFD. Click to enlarge.
AURORA | A fire destroyed an Aurora home Saturday night, forcing two adults and a baby to flee. 

The blaze started around 11:30 p.m. Saturday in a home at 4202 S. Quemoy St.

According to a statement from Aurora fire, the home was engulfed in flames by the time crews arrived on scene.

The three residents, two adults and an infant, fled the home and weren’t injured.

The home was is a total loss and crews focused on keeping the massive blaze from spreading to nearby homes, Aurora fire said.

Fire investigators have not yet determined what caused the blaze and won’t be able to start their investigation until the home is safe to enter.

Investigators estimated the damage at $400,000.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Madrid due in court in toddler slaying

AURORA | A man charged with murder after police say he threw his girlfriend’s toddler son across a room is set to appear in court Thursday morning. 

Theodore “Ted” Madrid, 30, was charged in January with first-degree murder and two counts of child abuse resulting in death in connection with the Jan. 5 slaying of Caden Rodgers. 

Madrid, who has been in jail since his arrest in early January, is set to appear in Arapahoe County Court for preliminary hearing Thursday. 

At the hearing, which is scheduled to last the 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. 

Monday, May 9, 2011

Officer asking Commission to overturn firing

AURORA | An Aurora police officer fired in January after being arrested twice on DUI charges is trying to get his job back this week. 

Former Officer Marc Sears is pleading his case to the Aurora Civil Service Commission in a trial that started today and is scheduled to end Friday. 

A six-year veteran previously assigned to the police academy, was fired Jan. 5. 

He was previously suspended for a month following his second arrest, which happened in March 2010 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 in January that charges in the second case were dropped and Sears charged only with careless driving.

Search continues for disabled man

Braulio Guerrero

AURORA | Police continued to search Monday 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. April 19 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 Monday morning. 

In a statement last month, 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.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Texas cops arrest figure in Monge case

Kenia Monge
AURORA | A man who described himself as a suspect in the April disappearance of an a 19-year-old Aurora woman was arrested in Texas this week on car theft charges. 

Travis Eugene Forbes, 31, was booked into the Travis County Jail in Austin, Texas, around 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, according to jail records posted online. 

Forbes was arrested on a felony charge of unauthorized use of a vehicle out of Texas as well as a warrant from Colorado, the website said. 

According to Colorado court records, the Colorado warrant is for a car theft charge in Wheat Ridge. The warrant in that case was issued Thursday, according to Jefferson County court records. 

Forbes last month told several media outlets that he gave Kenia Monge a ride the night she disappeared from a Downtown Denver nightclub and had been question by Denver police.
He said he was a suspect in Monge’s disappearance, but he has not been charged in connection with that case. 

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Woman hospitalized after fire

AURORA | A woman was hospitalized after an early morning fire Thursday at an Aurora apartment complex. 
According to a Channel 7 report, firefighters first responded around 3:30 a.m. to the blaze on South Dearborn Street, near East Mississippi Avenue and South Sable Boulevard.

When fire crews arrived, they found the woman unconscious and rushed her to  a hospital. The woman, whose name has not been released, is in serious condition.

The cause of the blze remains under investigation.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Cops search for bank robbers

Surveillance image of one of the robbers.
AURORA | Police are searching for four suspects who robbed an Aurora bank Wednesday morning. 

The robbery happened around 10 a.m. at the Wells Fargo Bank at 999 S. Sable Blvd., police said. 

Four robbers pulled up to the bank in a dark colored jeep and three went inside while a driver waited inside the vehicle. 

The masked suspects fled the bank with an undisclosed amount of money, police said. 
Witnesses did not see any weapons. 

The suspects are described as three black males and a black woman.

In surveillance images released Wednesday, it appeared at least one suspect was wearing camouflage pants. 

Police later found the getaway car a few blocks away in the 1000 block of South Blackhawk Street. 

Police are asking anyone with information about the robbery to call police the FBI Rocky Mountain Safe Streets Task Force at 303-629-7171. Callers can also remain anonymous and earn up to $2,000 by calling CRIMESTOPPERS at 720-913-STOP (7867).

Click below for surveillance images courtesy of APD. 

Supreme Court says witnesses in Ray case still need protection

Robert Ray

AURORA | The Colorado Supreme Court ruled last week that prosecutors could continue to withhold from Robert Ray’s defense team the addresses of witnesses who testified against the reputed drug dealer who now sits on Death Row. 

In an opinion handed down April 25, the high court ruled that Ray still posed a threat to the witnesses and that details about the witnesses should be protected during the appeals phase of his case. 

Arapahoe County prosecutors announced the ruling Wednesday morning.

With the ruling, the high court overruled a decision by a district court judge that said the information should be shared with Ray’s defense team. 

Ray was convicted in 2009 of ordering the killing of Javad Marshall-Fields in June 2005 to stop Marshall-Fields from testifying against Ray in a 2004 murder case. Marshall-Fields’ fiancee, Vivian Wolfe, was also killed when Ray’s friend, Sir Mario Owens, fired several rounds into Marshall-Fields’ car. 

Like Ray, Owens was also sentenced to death. 

Both men are appealing their sentences. 

Perish Carter, the man police say drove Owens the night of the slayings, was convicted of conspiracy to commit murder last year and sentenced to 70 years in prison. 

Click below for a timeline of events in the case. 

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Robinson trial bumped to August

AURORA | The trial of a man charged with murder after a fatal liquor store robbery last spring has been delayed until August, according to court records. 

Elon Raynell Wynn Robinson, 22, was set to go on trial yesterday in Arapahoe County District Court in Centennial. 

But according to records, the trial is now scheduled to start Aug. 29. It wasn’t clear from the records why the trial was delayed. 

Robinson was arrested a short time after the April 9 robbery at Sixth Avenue Liquors that left Benigno Morales-Ramirez, 24, dead. Robinson was also wounded by gunfire during the robbery.

A second man, Anthony Gillespie, 24, was arrested in August in connection with the robbery and murder.

According to the arrest affidavit filed against Robinson, he was shot in the arm and hip during the robbery and later arrested at an area hospital. He has been in jail since.

Gillespie, who is being held in the Arapahoe County Jail without bail, is set to go on trial in July, according to court records.

Missing woman found

AURORA | A 60-year-old woman with dementia who disappeared from her north Aurora home last week has been found, police said.  

Lucy Rasberry Orji went missing around 2:30 p.m. April 26 when she walked away from her home near East Colfax Avenue and Havana Street, according to a bulletin from the Colorado Bureau of Investigation. 

An Aurora police spokesman said this afternoon that police found Orji in Aurora on April 28. 
She was later turned over to her son and the case was closed, the spokesman said. 

Vehicle smashes townhouse Tues. afternoon

AURORA | A vehicle crashed into a townhouse Tuesday near East Yale Avenue and South Peoria Street, police said, severing a gas line and forcing police to briefly close area streets. 

The crash happened around 3:10 p.m., said Lt. Chuck DeShazer, a spokesman for the Aurora police traffic section. Only the driver was injured and they sustained minor injuries, DeShazer said. 

The crash broke a gas line inside the townhouse and police blocked off area traffic for about 15 minutes before the scene was under control, DeSHazer said. 

Details including the driver’s gender and the type of vehicle involved were not immediately available Tuesday afternoon. 

It wasn’t immediately clear why the driver crashed into the home, DeShazer said, and the crash remains under investigation. 

Monday, May 2, 2011

DeLeon convicted of lesser murder charge

Marcos DeLeon

AURORA | A man who police say killed his girlfriend last spring was convicted of second-degree murder Friday afternoon, a spokeswoman for prosecutors said. 

The jury returned the guilty verdict against Marcos Antonio DeLeon, 23, around 4:45 p.m. Friday, according to Krista Flannigan, a spokeswoman for the Adams County district attorney’s office. 

DeLeon was charged with first-degree murder in connection with the April 12, 2010, slaying of 19-year-old Dakota Fresh at the couple’s apartment near East Montview Boulevard Fulton Street. 

Had the jury convicted DeLeon of first-degree murder, he would have faced a mandatory sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole. Instead, DeLeon will likely face a prison term of up to 48 years at his sentencing hearing next month. 

During opening statements last week, DeLeon’s lawyer, public defender Christian Earle, said Deleon did not mean to kill Fresh that night and may not have been the person who pulled the trigger. Fresh grabbed a gun from the coffee table that night and held it to her head, threatening suicide, Earle said. And when DeLeon reached for the pistol, it went off.