Closing arguments were made Tuesday in the trial of Michael Jones, who is charged with first-degree murder in connection with a drug deal gone bad last year in the Lightner Creek Mobile Home Park.
Jones, 20, is suspected of shooting David Gaytan, 34, once in the chest. Prosecutors say he traveled with two accomplices from Texas to purchase a large quantity of marijuana in Durango with plans to sell it in Texas.
In addition to first-degree murder, which carries a sentence of life in prison, Jones is charged with three counts of aggravated robbery, three counts of felony menacing and one count of tampering with physical evidence.
The trial began Aug. 13 with jury selection, and jurors began deliberating about 11:15 a.m. Tuesday.
During closing arguments, Assistant District Attorney David Ottman said Jones and his accomplices – his cousin, Kevin Goff, 27, and mutual friend Alysee Rios, 19 – planned to rob Gaytan and had no plans to purchase the marijuana. He said the trio brought only $300, far short of the roughly $5,000 needed to complete the transaction.
During the transaction, Gaytan, along friends Brittany Jaime and Alex Schaffhauser, became angry about the amount of money the trio presented, Ottman said. Jones allegedly pulled out the gun and Gaytan lunged at him, causing Jones to shoot him in the chest, he said.
Before the transaction, the trio from Texas were upset about the slow proceedings of the deal. They arrived May 13 in Durango to meet with Jaime and Schaffhauser, but the drug deal wasn’t completed that day, Ottman said.
Ottman argued against the defense’s position that Jones was a “stranger in a strange land,” saying that Jones had been to the area before to purchase marijuana from Jaime and Schaffhauser. Because he had dealt with them before, there was no need to bring a gun for self-defense, he said.
Ottman said Rios waited outside in a black Chevy Impala during the transaction as a getaway driver. Rios testified that the robbery was premeditated.
Justin Bogan, Jones’ public defense lawyer, said there wasn’t sufficient evidence to convict him of first-degree murder. He denied it was a planned robbery and instead said it was a drug deal gone bad.
Bogan said it is unclear what happened in the trailer. Gaytan and Schaffhauser were unhappy with the deal and attacked Jones, prompting him to shoot the gun, he said.
Bogan also questioned the validity of Rios’ testimony, the prosecution’s key witness. Bogan said she was fearful of serving around 75 years in prison and took a deal to testify against Jones in exchange for only four to six years.
The trial is being overseen by 6th Judicial District Judge William Herringer.