Amaya co-workers saw no ‘bizarre’ behavior
The prosecutor in the El Jebel double homicide case relied heavily Tuesday on Williams Amaya’s former co-workers to try to discredit Amaya’s claim that he was insane when he fatally shot his aunt and uncle in July 2014.
Chief Deputy District Attorney Joe Kirwan called the two co-owners of Colorado Pool and Spa Scapes as well as two of Amaya’s co-workers. He presented the same questions to each of them throughout testimony Tuesday afternoon: Did Amaya ever say he was Lucifer or the son of Lucifer, that he was reincarnated or that celebrities ranging from Kim Kardashian to Hillary Clinton were part of his family? More generally, he asked for any report of “bizarre” behavior.
In each case, the answer was “no.”
Instead, the collective picture painted by the four employees of the pool and spa business was that Amaya was a good worker who started to change after a divorce and became irritable with customers the same summer as the shootings.
Neil McComb, co-owner of Colorado Pool and Spa Scapes, said Amaya worked at the Glenwood Springs-based business from February 2007 to July 2014 and earned promotions. He cleaned between five and 10 pools per day in the upper Roaring Fork Valley and calculated the proper amount of chlorine to add to them.
“His work attendance was awesome,” McComb said. He later added that Amaya was “a model employee” who earned a lot of “atta boys” from customers.
Manny Rodriguez, a former technician at the pool and spa business, said Amaya was a great mentor to him and they became friends. They played soccer in a Sunday men’s league at Colorado Mountain College’s Spring Valley campus. They would talk about that and other things via telephone after business hours.
Rodriguez said Amaya’s interaction with other employees was “outstanding” when Rodriguez first joined the business in October 2010.
Started to change
Rodriguez noticed a change in his friend after Amaya and his wife got divorced in 2012.
“He really wasn’t talking to anyone. He kept more to himself,” he said.
The changes became more pronounced with time, according to Amaya’s co-workers. Rodriguez testified that Amaya talked a little bit about living with his aunt and uncle, Mayra and Eliseo Lopez, in their Sopris Village home.
“He was annoyed with the dog. He didn’t like the dog too much,” Rodriguez said, recounting conversations with Amaya. He said he wanted to move, but Rodriguez didn’t know if he actually ever checked out alternatives.
McComb said the praise that usually came Amaya’s way from customers started to change in May 2014. Some customers complained about his anger when they came to the properties. In one case, Amaya was reprimanded for the way he treated a property manager, including spitting at her feet, McComb said.
Mental state at center of case
Amaya’s mental state at the time of the July 12, 2014, shootings is at the center of the case. He isn’t disputing that he pulled the trigger and killed the Lopezes, but he pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity.
Kirwan is trying to make the case that Amaya knew exactly what he was doing — driving to Grand Junction to purchase a handgun the day of the homicides and waiting until that night to confront his aunt and uncle.
After his arrest, Amaya told investigators he was Lucifer and that Clinton, Kardashian, John McCain and Paris Hilton were relatives.
Kirwan said in his opening statement Monday that Amaya was playing “a little crazy” to avoid prison.
The prosecution is making its case this week. The defense will present its witnesses next week.
A 12-member jury is pondering the evidence and will be asked to determine if Amaya goes to prison or a mental-health institution.
The case is supposed to be finished by Oct. 7.
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A man who was arrested Jan. 4 for allegedly firing a handgun during a dogfight near Crown Mountain Park is facing an additional charge for allegedly tampering with evidence. The suspect allegedly threw his handgun into the Roaring Fork River after the confrontation.