Jury begins deliberation in Glenwood Springs murder trial
Glenwood Springs Post Independent
The jury is scheduled to begin deliberations first thing today to decide whether Gustavo Olivo-Tellez, 29, is guilty of first-degree murder or a lesser homicide charge for the death of his estranged wife, Blanca Salas-Jurado.
Jurors were dismissed just after 4:30 p.m. Thursday after the conclusion of closing arguments, which concluded 12 days of trial and five days of jury selection spread over most of February.
In the closing arguments, Deputy 9th District Attorney Sarah Nordgaard presented the case that Olivo-Tellez planned and methodically carried out his plan to kill Salas over the week leading up to Friday, Oct. 7, 2016.
“He thought Ms. Salas was ending the relationship, so he ended her life,” Nordgaard said.
She traced Olivo-Tellez’s actions from the Monday prior to the shooting — the day he said in his confession that he knew he was going to kill Salas — to his actions the day of the shooting.
He arranged transportation from Denver through his sometimes-girlfriend Michelle Castillo, 25, having her purchase ammunition, avoiding her at the Walmart while she made the purchase, transferring the ammunition to his car when he got to Glenwood Springs, and taking the gun from where he stored it in a black, floral purse. He left the purse with Castillo before driving to Salas’ home in the Pinon Pines apartment complex near Spring Valley, Nordgaard argued.
Olivo-Tellez even took the time, Nordgaard said, to remove his son from the apartment so he wouldn’t see the shooting.
“All the steps he took on that day, Oct. 7, prove to you the defendant acted with deliberation. Where is there haste? Where is there impulsivity? There is none,” Nordgaard said.
There is no evidence that Salas was sleeping with another man, but their text messages and witnesses confirm that Olivo-Tellez was convinced she was.
The defense theory of the case is that Olivo-Tellez’s mind was so clouded by consuming methamphetamine and alcohol, including around 12 beers and a liter of tequila that Thursday night, that he was incapable of mental capacity to form deliberate intent to kill.
“In that drug-poisoned state,” combined with “burning emotions, he did want to get to Glenwood Springs and see his wife,” lead defense attorney Garth McCarty said in his closing argument.
Olivo-Tellez was trying to reconcile with Salas, McCarty said, but when he got to the apartment, she made comments that angered him.
“On Oct. 7, Ms. Salas said things to him that were volatile and provocative, and we think, were sarcastic,” McCarty said. But in Olivo-Tellez’s intoxicated state, he could not “intellectually tamp down” his rage.
“If it weren’t for methamphetamine, this homicide wouldn’t have happened,” McCarty told the jury.
McCarty showed a picture of Olivo-Tellez smiling with his son in front of a Christmas tree, which may have been at the end of 2014 before Olivo-Tellez told his psychologist evaluators he began using methamphetamine regularly.
Olivo-Tellez was a loving father and caring husband, but he “stopped being that person” when his addictive personality was consumed by meth, McCarty said.
“The defense counsel wants you to find him not guilty of first-degree murder because he also did meth,” deputy District Attorney Don Nottingham said in his rebuttal to the defense team’s closing argument.
Prosecutors have maintained that Olivo-Tellez exhibited no signs of intoxication on the day of the shooting.
If the jury finds Olivo-Tellez not guilty of first-degree murder, they have the option to find him guilty of second-degree or willful murder, manslaughter, criminally negligent homicide, or to find him not guilty.
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