Prosecution rests after jury sees Gustavo Olivo-Tellez’ taped confession
Glenwood Springs Post Independent
A jury watched Gustavo Olivo-Tellez’ videotaped confession, given in the first interview after his arrest in 2016 for the murder of his estranged wife Blanca Salas-Jurado, during the eighth day of the trial Friday.
Prosecutors saved the more than five hours of interview footage for the final day of their portion of the trial.
For the first five hours of the video, which was taken in an Grand Junction Police Department interview room Oct. 8, 2016, Olivo-Tellez denied any knowledge of Salas’ death.
The defense and prosecuting attorneys agreed to skip parts of the video where Olivo-Tellez waited alone in the interview room. Principal defense attorney Garth McCarty insisted that the jury see a portion of the video where Olivo-Tellez asked to lie down, and officers refused.
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The jury watched more than an hour of Olivo-Tellez solitude in the interview room Thursday evening.
Garfield County Sheriff’s Office Detective Dave Hatch told Olivo-Tellez in the interview that there was already enough evidence to charge him with first-degree murder.
Olivo-Tellez’ sister-in-law, who lives in Grand Junction, told police that Olivo-Tellez had brought his son and admitted to shooting Salas four times, once in the stomach. It was only after that Garfield Sheriffs visited the apartment and found Salas’ body, with wounds similar to what Olivo-Tellez’ sister-in-law had described.
In the video, Olivo-Tellez continued to deny doing anything, and demanded Hatch tell him how Salas had died.
Hatch also testified about his interview with the sister-in-law, but that video was not shown. At one point, Hatch’s memory disagreed with the transcript of his interview with Olivo-Tellez’ sister-in-law.
According to the transcript, provided by the prosecution to the defense, the sister-in-law told Hatch that Olivo-Tellez said Salas had “shoved him.”
After reviewing the video through headphones, Hatch said the sister-in-law had said Olivo-Tellez told her Salas “shook, and that was it.” Hatch interpreted this to mean after the shooting, Olivo-Tellez saw Salas shudder and expire.
Defense attorney Garth McCarty, who also watched the relevant portion of the video with headphones, noted that he was relying on the transcript provided by the prosecution.
In the final portion of the video with Olivo-Tellez, which McCarty referred to as the confession portion of the interview, Colorado Bureau of Investigation agent John Zamora, who took the stand at Friday’s trial, helped coax the confession by threatening Olivo-Tellez’ codefendant Michelle Castillo
In the video, Zamora and another CBI agent say that Castillo, who drove Olivo-Tellez from Denver to Glenwood Springs before the shooting of Salas, and to Grand Junction later in the day, will go to prison for accessory murder.
After several minutes, Olivo-Tellez concedes. “I shot her. I left with the kid,” Olivo-Tellez said, and admitted to the killing, to throwing the gun and bullets and his phone into the Roaring Fork River at Veltus Park.
He also signed a hand-written statement, where he said he went to Salas’ apartment at Pinon Pines, put his son in the hall, then followed Salas to the bedroom and shot her three or four times.
In his statement, he also said he asked Castillo to drive him to California, but she declined. Castillo, in her own testimony earlier in the trial, did not recall that statement the same way.
When asked why he shot Salas, Olivo-Tellez told Zamora that Salas had sent him “thousands of pictures” of her having sex with other men.
Olivo-Tellez said he could not remember where Castillo bought the bullets because he was drunk at the time they were purchased, sometime after 9 a.m. on Oct. 7, 2016. In his statement, he said he was not drunk when he shot Salas.
Olivo-Tellez says he shot Salas in the stomach, and upon further questions from the CBI agents, says his son, who was 3 years old at the time, was in the hallway and did not see Salas die.
After Zamora’s testimony, the prosecution rested their case, and the defense called one witness before the court adjourned for the weekend.
The first defense witness, a contracted expert crime scene analyst, testified that all four bullets were fired and entered Salas’ body before it hit the floor.
Upon cross examination by Deputy District Attorney Sarah Nordgaard, the witness conceded that the shooter had to be standing directly over the body to place the two bullets into the chin.
Salas was shot four times, once in the stomach, once in the clavicle, and twice in the chin. Prosecutors say the final three shots were made execution stile, with Olivo-Tellez standing directly over the body.
The defense team intends to show that Olivo-Tellez did not intend to shoot Salas, but was caught up in the heat of passion and in a state of psychosis after days of methamphetamine use and drinking.
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Pools in Aspen and Pitkin County will be allowed to open Monday, though COVID-19-related rules will apply.