Garfield County jury finds man guilty of attempted murder
Glenwood Springs correspondent
Aspen, CO Colorado
GLENWOOD SPRINGS ” Jurors decided Thursday night that Samuel Lincoln was among the masked men who nearly stabbed Federico Garcia Hernandez to death with a bayonet and then robbed him and his family in a trailer in West Glenwood Springs in 2004.
Lincoln stood and faced the jury with his hands clasped behind his back as 9th Judicial District Judge James Boyd read the verdicts. Lincoln was found guilty of second-degree attempted murder, first-degree assault, aggravated robbery, first-degree burglary, theft and menacing. The jury’s decision came in around 10 p.m. after a few hours of deliberation. Family members declined to comment about the sentence.
Deputy District Attorney Amy Fitch said, “I’m very pleased with the verdict.”
She said the case presented against Lincoln was the same case she presented against Lawrence Doty, who was found not guilty in January 2007. But she said she worked on the case quite a bit and honed her arguments.
In a closing statement Thursday, Fitch said Sharon Coelho, a key witness tying Lincoln and Doty to the crime, had no reason to lie almost three-and-a-half years later. Fitch outlined several factors she said corroborate Coelho’s testimony.
Coelho testified she planned the robbery with Lincoln, 26, Doty and a man named “AJ” to get more methamphetamine after they all used the drug. She said she saw them leave and come back to her room at the Budget Host motel with blood on their clothes in the early hours of Nov. 30, 2004. Then, she said, they drove to Grand Junction in Lincoln’s blue Ford Mustang. Garcia Hernandez had paid for the motel room to help Coelho out.
“Sharon Coelho is not America’s sweetheart, and she’s probably not someone you would want your son to date,” Fitch said.
But she said Coelho’s testimony is credible because Nick Mortensen testified he overheard Coelho planning the robbery with some men at the Budget Host. Mortensen also said Coelho called him before that and said “Sam” and “Larry” were coming to do a robbery. Mortensen saw a blue Mustang, and the Budget Host motel manager saw Doty at the hotel and later identified him. Fitch also argued that things like a bloody glove print and a broken back door at the crime scene confirmed Coelho’s statements.
“All of that points to one conclusion, and that is that Samuel Lincoln is guilty,” she said.
Fitch said Coelho had no immunity from prosecution when she first admitted her involvement to detectives.
Defense attorney Kathy Goudy said Lincoln wasn’t involved in the crime. She said, “Nothing puts Sam there except (Coelho).”
Goudy said Coelho’s immunity to prosecution makes her less credible. Coelho changed her testimony on the stand in front of the jury. Goudy also said Coelho lied to police about a nonexistent letter from Lincoln confessing to the crime. Goudy questioned the Budget Host motel manager’s testimony, saying his timeline didn’t match up with others’ statements.
The Budget Host motel room was never searched or tested for blood or other evidence, Goudy said, and no blood was found in the blue Ford Mustang that Coelho said the men with bloody clothes drove to Grand Junction. Goudy also said Coelho didn’t implicate Lincoln or Doty until six months after the crime, five days after Coelho’s boyfriend was arrested for assaulting Doty, who Coelho said she only “hooked up” with.
“The missing piece here is the real assailant, and we don’t have that here,” Goudy said. “What we have is reasonable doubt.”
Before that, Judge James Boyd heard legal arguments from attorneys and denied a mid-trial motion for dismissal of charges. He also ruled that the not-guilty verdict from Doty’s January 2007 trial would not be allowed to be presented before the jury as evidence.
Lincoln was arrested at the Budget Host in December 2005. A judge recently sentenced him to 222 years in prison for shooting at Mesa County deputies and trying to shoot a man to death in the desert near Grand Junction.
Goudy asked to waive Lincoln’s right to a pre-sentence investigation and proceed directly to sentencing so he can return to his “future home.” Fitch said the victims had a right to be present and asked for time to contact them. Boyd set Lincoln’s sentencing for 1:15 p.m. on Friday.
The Buddy Program rang in the holiday spirit with their annual Gingerbread House Workshops in Aspen and Carbondale.