Glenwood Springs murder trial stretches on

Thomas Phippen
Glenwood Springs Post Independent

The prosecution’s case against Gustavo Olivo-Tellez, 29, stretched into a seventh day Thursday as the 9th District Attorney’s Office continued to present its evidence.

Olivo-Tellez is accused of first-degree murder in the shooting death of his estranged wife, Blanca Salas-Jurado, on Oct. 7, 2016.

The jury heard testimony Thursday from the Colorado Bureau of Investigation ballistics expert who examined the weapon used to shoot Salas, as well as other law enforcement officers involved in the case.

Garfield County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Chris Hatch took the stand in the afternoon, and the jury began watching a video of the initial interview Hatch conducted with Olivo-Tellez the day after the shooting death, just after his arrest in Grand Junction.

The jury heard Olivo-Tellez’s voice for the first time of the trial, when at the start of the video he asked the arresting officer what was going on.

Judge John Neiley decided to show the entire video, which lasts several hours, rather than an edited version. However, the prosecution and defense attorneys agreed to skip about 30 minutes of the video.

Even with the skipped portion, the jury watched more than an hour of footage where Olivo-Tellez waited handcuffed in the interview room at the Grand Junction Police station. The jury will see the interview portion of the video beginning this morning.

Deputy Hatch said in testimony that he had waited some time for a Spanish translator to arrive before the interview started.

Following the discussion of identification issues Tuesday, District Attorney Jeff Cheney presented an email to the court late Wednesday, without the jury present, that indicates Olivo-Tellez’s state-issued picture ID would not have been accepted for the purchase of ammunition.

The ID is the kind often used by non-citizens in order to obtain driving licenses.

The email Cheney read into the record from an investigator who took a photocopy of Olivo-Tellez’ ID to a local Walmart after the trial started and asked if it would be sufficient to purchase ammunition.

The clerk said it would not be accepted, according to the email.

Cheney said he introduced the email as it was potentially evidence favorable to the defendant.

The ID issue is of importance because the defense insists Olivo-Tellez’ codefendant, Michelle Castillo, often purchased ammunition on behalf of the accused because she had a valid ID and Olivo-Tellez did not.

Prosecutors and defense attorneys are not permitted to explain Olivo-Tellez’s lack of identification to the jury, as it would involve a discussion of his immigration status.

Judge Neiley has ruled that such a discussion is irrelevant to the murder charges, and could prejudice the jury against Olivo-Tellez.

The prosecution has suggested that Olivo-Tellez avoided being seen with Castillo as she purchased the ammunition because he wanted to avoid leaving an evidence trail.


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