Olivo-Tellez sentenced to max 48 years on second-degree murder conviction
Sentencing came down Wednesday for 30-year-old Gustavo Olivo-Tellez, convicted at a March trial of second-degree murder for the October 2016 death of his estranged wife Blanca Salas-Jurado.
Ninth District Judge John Neiley ordered the maximum 48 years in prison for Olivo-Tellez.
While Neiley said he would uphold the jury’s second-degree murder conviction, he referred to the selfish nature of the crime and the little thought he said Olivo-Tellez gave to the consequences of his actions in imposing the maximum penalty.
While the defense asked for a sentence of 20 to 24 years and to cap the sentence at 30 years, Neiley saw it a differently.
He felt a lengthy sentence was necessary in this case, as it was an extremely violent and brutal crime.
Neiley pointed specifically to the way Olivo-Tellez removed his and Salas-Jurado’s 3-year-old son from the home on the day of the crime as one of the most disturbing facts of the case. He said it demonstrated the callousness with which the crime was carried out.
The sentence hearing took around four hours Wednesday afternoon, as the packed courtroom listened to the defense argue for shorter sentencing while the prosecution looked for a heavier one.
One point of contention was the convicted murderer’s sense of guilt and remorse throughout the trial.
The prosecution argued that the defendant consistently blamed drugs and alcohol for his actions, showing his lack of remorse and lack of understanding for victim impact.
“He only thinks about himself,” said Deputy District attorney Donald Nottingham.
Karla Salas, the victim’s sister, asked the judge for the maximum sentence, saying her sister’s is the life that will be be missed, not his.
“Anything less than 48 years would discount his actions and would be a slap in the face to the victim and the family that’s sat here this whole trial,” Nottingham concluded.
Lead defense attorney Garth McCarty argued that it wasn’t the court’s role to rule that one human life is more valuable than any other and asked for a sentence that was congruent with the jury’s conviction.
“He did not set out to be a monster. This is a person with an actual life story,” he continued.
With the jury’s determination that the crime was not first-degree murder because his intoxication at the time prevented him from forming deliberative intent for murder, McCarty reiterated the effects methamphetamine can have on the human brain.
Blanca Salas-Jurado was shot four times in her apartment in Spring Valley on Oct. 7, 2016.
The defense continued to claim intoxication was the issue in the case that defined his actions.
McCarty said he gave control of himself to substances that day and added that, in tender moments of reflection, Olivo-Tellez said he would give his own life to give Salas back hers — countering the prosecution’s claims he showed no remorse.
While Neiley listened to the defense’s arguments, ultimately he felt the particular facts of the case were too troubling and deeply disturbing to ignore.
According to testimony at the trial, Olivo-Tellez stopped at Wal-Mart on his way to Salas’ house to purchase ammunition. Afterward, he fled the scene, disposed of the gun and other evidence in the Roaring Fork River.
He was later arrested in Grand Junction with his girlfriend, Michelle Castillo, who was a codefendant in Salas’ death. Castillo pleaded guilty to accessory first-degree murder in 2017, and testified at Olivo-Tellez’s trial while in custody serving a 16-year prison sentence with the Department of Corrections.
On the day of the shooting, Castillo picked up Olivo-Tellez from Denver, purchased ammunition that may have been used in the murder, met up with him after the shooting, and drove him to Grand Junction, with Salas’ son.
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