El Jebel double murderer’s ex-wife says they tried exorcism two years before crime
The former wife of Williams Anderson Amaya testified Wednesday that his behavior became so strange while they were married that her family organized an exorcism for him.
Aliya Coreas said two of her aunts are devout Catholics, so they arranged a prayer meeting with friends at the Glenwood Springs apartment of Amaya and Coreas. A priest also was brought to the meeting in what Coreas said was intended to be an exorcism after Amaya started claiming he was Lucifer.
The effort to rid Amaya of his alleged demons didn’t work. “When (the priest) arrived he started acting very ugly, as though he was an animal,” Coreas testified in Eagle County District Court.
Amaya’s sanity is the focus of the trial. He fatally shot his aunt and uncle in their house in the Sopris Village subdivision in the El Jebel area in July 2014. He pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity. The exorcism was attempted more than two years prior to the double homicide.
Prosecutors Joe Kirwan and Courtney Gilbert of the 5th Judicial District Attorney’s Office are trying to show Amaya, 35, was sane at the time of the killings. Amaya’s public defenders are trying to show he was insane.
Depending on the jury’s verdict, Amaya will either spend his life in prison or in a mental institution until he can prove he has recovered his sanity.
Married a ‘good person’
Coreas, 31, said she met Amaya at a party in November 2008, and that triggered a courtship that started with phone calls. They eventually dated and were married in December 2010.
When asked what Amaya was like, she said through the interpreter, “Well, he was a normal person. He was polite.” She later added, “I met him as a good person.”
His manner changed about one year later when he visited El Salvador for two weeks without her. When he returned he accused her of cheating on him with a specific man. She said she didn’t even know the man who he accused her of seeing. They talked through the dispute and the relationship stabilized until March 2012.
She said Amaya returned from work the evening of March 23, 2012, two days after his birthday, and acted “really odd.” He told her he wanted to be alone and spent about 40 minutes outside in a vehicle. He came in the house, repeated that he wanted to be alone and went back outside.
“Later on he was saying he was Lucifer, he was the devil,” she said.
The couple went to bed and later that night she woke up startled to find one of his hands around her neck, she testified. She thought he was asleep so she pushed his hand down to her stomach. A short time later he pushed on her stomach really hard, she said. She jumped out of bed, waking up Amaya. He soon went back to sleep.
Coreas said she was so nervous at that point that she had to get out of the house. She texted an aunt to pick her up and then ran out and hid in the parking lot. They reported the incident to the Glenwood Springs Police Department that night, she said, and were advised on where they could find possible mental-health care for Amaya. She indicated no law enforcement action was pursued against her husband.
However, Amaya agreed at the suggestion of Coreas’ aunt to go to a hospital in Grand Junction for a mental-health assessment.
“They called me after three days and told me not to be afraid of him. He wouldn’t hurt me. He was fine,” Coreas testified.
Lucifer, pro football and celebrity
Coreas soon learned conditions weren’t fine. Amaya wouldn’t take medications or see a doctor. He insisted he was fine, she said, but he was verbally abusive to her and he made wild claims. He said he was William Anderson, a famous American football player, that he was a celebrity and that he was a millionaire.
He also continued to tell her he was the devil, she testified.
After his hospital visit, she said, “I lasted two more weeks.”
She moved out of their apartment in April 2012 and retrieved her clothes and personal possessions a short time later and eventually found a note tucked into her clothes. He expressed his love for her but also lamented that if they had never met he would have never been a danger to her. It concluded by saying “I’m sorry” four times.
Amaya ended up being the one who filed for divorce. But while it was being processed, she claimed he told her she’d never be happy with another man. If she did end up with someone else, he said he would kill them both, she testified. The divorce was finalized in January 2013.
“His change was very different and very drastic,” Coreas said.
She was called as a witness by the prosecution, though her testimony seemed to raise questions about Amaya’s sanity. The jury appeared to hang on her testimony, which lasted nearly an hour.
Amaya stared straight ahead during Coreas’s testimony. It didn’t appear from behind the defense table that he ever turned his head to look at her.
Disturbing images of victims
The day started on a somber note with Dr. Robert Kurtzman, a forensic pathologist who used to work in Grand Junction, discussing and showing photographs of the four bullet wounds suffered by both Eliseo and Myra Lopez. They were shot in their Sopris Village home, where they lived with their two boys and rented a room to Amaya, their nephew.
Both of the victims suffered two wounds that would have been debilitating but not fatal. Myra was shot on the right side of her chest. She also was shot in the left arm by a bullet that penetrated her chest, damaged her lungs and intestines and lodged in her thigh.
Myra also suffered to gunshot wounds to the head. The two bullet holes were “very, very close,” Kurtzman said. It’s possible the two bullets were fired at close range in rapid succession, he said.
Eliseo suffered a shot to the right side of his chest. The bullet damaged his spinal cord and liver. That bullet would have incapacitated him, according to Kurtzman.
“His legs basically would have given out instantly,” he said.
He also suffered a wound to his left thigh. Like Myra, he was shot twice in the head. One of those shots would have been “instantly fatal,” he said.
Multiple pictures of the injuries were projected onto a large screen hanging in the courtroom. The way it was situated, the screen hung about 4 feet above Amaya and about 6 feet distant. He stared straight ahead during Kurtzman’s testimony and never turned his head to look at the screen.
Kurtzman stressed that he couldn’t determine the order of the wounds. However, Chief Deputy District Attorney Kirwan said in opening statements Monday that after firing the initial shots, Amaya went outside the house, reloaded his pistol, went back inside and shot both victims two more times.
There was an implication from the two days that Amaya severely wounded the Lopezes and then went back for the kill.
The prosecution will rest its case today. The defense will start to make its case Monday.
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Longtime Aspen-area caterer Peter O’Grady was formally charged last week in a child pornography case in Eagle County District Court. He faces one count of sexual exploitation of a child by video.