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Home invasion suspects charged with first-degree murder

Four Arizona men face life in prison if convicted

Prosecutors filed first-degree murder charges Thursday against four men suspected in a home invasion and shooting that left a Fort Lewis College student dead last month in Durango.

They face mandatory lifetime prison sentences if convicted of the charge.

In addition to first-degree murder, they are charged with six counts of burglary, two counts of robbery, four counts of menacing and eight sentencing enhancers.

They face two counts of first-degree murder even though only one person died. One murder charge stems from the robbery and the other directly linked to the death of Samuel Xarius Gordon, 20, who was shot once in the abdomen.

All four are suspected of orchestrating a home invasion early May 24 to rob Gordon of his marijuana.

Alvin Noel Flores, 22, of Phoenix; Kuauhtleko Garcia, 21, of Scottsdale, Arizona; Kodi “Maz” E. Kuauhtli, 19, of Phoenix; and Daniel Nelson Wright, 20, of Phoenix were formally advised of the charges Thursday in 6th Judicial District Court.

All four remain jailed on $500,000 bail.

Friends and family of both the victim and the defendants crowded the courtroom for the routine court procedures.

District Judge Jeffrey Wilson oversaw Thursday’s advisement hearings, but the cases are expected to be transferred to District Judge William Herringer.

Durango public defender John Moran argued for a lower bail for his client, Wright, but Wilson denied the request, citing the seriousness of the crime, the possible lifetime prison sentence he faces and that the allegations suggest a danger to the community.

Before making his arguments, Moran offered condolences to Gordon’s loved ones, saying that is probably cold comfort coming from a defense attorney, but it comes from the heart, he said.

Defense lawyers have filed several motions that are common in high-profile murder cases, including one requesting that police be prohibited from commenting further about the case. Judge Wilson indicated he plans to issue a gag order to that effect.

According to earlier interviews with police, Kuauhtli knew Gordon had a large amount of marijuana in his home at 253 Jenkins Ranch Road and arranged to have his friends from Arizona come help rob Gordon.

Three men armed with handguns entered the home about 3:30 a.m. with bandanas covering their faces. Five people inside the house, including Gordon, were taken hostage. They were held at gunpoint, and some were bound with zip ties, according to police.

Something went wrong, and Gordon was shot in the abdomen, possibly while reaching for a flare gun, police said in a previous interview. The men allegedly fled the house without the marijuana.

One of the men apparently waited outside to drive the getaway car. Police have not said who they suspect pulled the trigger nor who stayed outside.

Someone inside the house called 911 about 3:45 a.m. A responding police officer saw a gray sedan with Arizona plates leaving the area. He stopped the car, which had four occupants, including Kuauhtli at the wheel. Police executed a search warrant and officers found 9.1 pounds of illegally processed marijuana and more than $20,000 in Gordon’s room.

shane@durangoherald.com

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