Crucial hearing is set Monday in double homicide
An El Jebel man suspected of fatally shooting his aunt and uncle in July will learn what evidence prosecutors have against him Monday.
Williams Anderson Amaya, 33, is scheduled to have a preliminary hearing in Eagle County District Court. A judge will determine if there is probable cause that a crime was committed. If so, Amaya will be required to enter a plea at that hearing or shortly afterward, according to 5th Judicial District Attorney Bruce Brown.
If Amaya enters a not-guilty plea, the District Attorney’s Office will have 60 days to determine if it will seek the death penalty, Brown said. Brown told a judge in a hearing this summer that his staff was leaning against seeking the death penalty, but he made it clear no final decision had been made.
“I was trying to give the court a sneak preview without making a commitment,” Brown said this week.
He said he was unaware of any plea negotiations being held with Amaya’s attorney from the Public Defender’s Office. If the defense counsel approached with a proposal, his office would listen, he said. Negotiations often don’t occur in criminal cases until after a preliminary hearing.
Amaya is being held in the Eagle County Jail without bond because he is considered a flight risk.
He is accused by authorities of shooting his aunt and uncle, Mayra and Eliseo Lopez, in their midvalley home the night of July 12. Amaya was renting a room from them in their Sopris Village home.
The Lopezes were shot four times each, according to Eagle County Coroner Kara Bettis. The District Attorney’s Office said there also were bullet holes in the bedclothes of the Lopezes’ two teenage boys, who escaped injury.
A fight about the family’s dog preceded the shooting, according to information the boys gave to investigators.
Amaya fled the scene but was later arrested without incident at his place of employment in rural Garfield County. The Eagle County Sheriff’s Office said it recovered what is believed to be the murder weapon.
Amaya is facing two counts of first-degree murder, two counts of attempted first-degree murder, four counts of crimes of violence and one count of tampering with physical evidence.
If the death penalty isn’t pursued, Amaya will face multiple life terms in prison if convicted.
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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.