Pool of 400 potential jurors expected in Amaya double murder case
Special to The Aspen Times
EAGLE — The region’s only accused double murderer this century is scheduled for a three-week trial beginning Sept. 19.
Faced with two charges of first-degree murder, Williams Amaya was back in court Wednesday as attorneys debated the jury selection process in a pre-trial hearing.
Amaya faces life in prison on two first-degree murder charges for allegedly shooting his uncle, Eliseo Lopez, 42, then his aunt, Mayra Lorena Lopez, 40, in their El Jebel living room. He also attempted to chase down and murder their two sons. The deadly dispute reportedly started with an argument over the family dog, which survived.
As Amaya sat listening to the translator in his headphones, Judge Paul Dunkelman, Public defender Reed Owens, and prosecutor Courtney Gilbert hammered out the logistics of selecting a 12-person jury and four alternates from a pool of 400 potential jurors.
Amaya pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity.
Dr. John Hearn, the psychiatrist who examined Amaya at the state prison in Pueblo, diagnosed him with “unspecified schizophrenia.”
During the investigation, deputies said Amaya told them:
1. He hadn’t done anything wrong.
2. He “shot the bastards” because they were possessed by Lucifer and were making fun of who he said his family is: parents Hillary Clinton and John McCain, and siblings Paris Hilton, the Kardashians, and Chelsea Clinton.
3. His aunt and uncle were working for Lucifer, and he had been ordered to kill Lucifer.
4. He accused his nephews of killing their parents for the insurance money.
5. He bathed his bullets in holy water.
On the day of the shooting, Amaya drove to Cabela’s in Grand Junction where he said he bought the firearm, a .380 handgun and ammunition, for deer hunting, according to Detective Dan Loya.
He ate at the Olive Garden at Grand Junction’s Mesa Mall then drove back to his aunt and uncle’s home in El Jebel and stayed in his room.
Loya said when Amaya came out of his room that night, Amaya said his aunt and uncle started making fun of who he said his family is: Clinton, McCain, Hilton and the Kardashians.
Loya said by the time he had Amaya on the phone around 5 a.m., police had identified the two victims at the scene and had statements from their two sons as well as other witnesses.
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Peter Arnold’s playing career ended after high school, but his time on the ice continues a few decades later. A longtime USA Hockey official and new Aspen resident, Arnold is searching for the next generation of hockey referees among the youth ranks here in the Roaring Fork Valley.