A district court judge on Friday ruled that prosecutors can proceed with a first-degree murder trial for one of four men suspected of breaking into a home and killing a Fort Lewis College student in an effort to steal his marijuana stash.
District Judge William Herringer also found sufficient evidence to allow prosecutors to proceed with all other counts, including burglary, robbery and menacing.
In all, Alvin Noel Flores, 22, is charged with 14 felonies in connection with an early morning home invasion that resulted in the shooting death of Samuel Xarius Gordon, 20.
Flores is charged with two counts of first-degree murder even though only one person died. One count stems from a robbery and the other count is linked to a burglary. All are part of the same episode, which occurred shortly after 3:30 a.m. May 24 at 253 Jenkins Ranch Road in the SkyRidge subdivision in Durango.
A witness and police officers provided testimony Thursday in a preliminary hearing for Flores, who is from Phoenix. At a preliminary hearing, prosecutors must present enough evidence – probable cause, which is considered a low burden of proof – to convince a judge that a crime was committed and the person charged is likely connected with it.
Flores was the first of four suspects to have a preliminary hearing. The others – Kuauhtleko Garcia, 21, of Scottsdale, Arizona; Kodi “Maz” E. Kuauhtli, 19, of Phoenix; and Daniel Nelson Wright, 20, of Phoenix – are scheduled for preliminary hearings later this month and in October.
Police have not identified which man is suspected of shooting Gordon, and that detail remained a mystery after Thursday’s preliminary hearing. But based on state law, all four men can be charged with murder if prosecutors can show they were complicit, or acted in concert, in committing the crimes.
According to testimony, all four men planned to storm into Gordon’s house and rob him of his 9 to 10 pounds of illegal marijuana. He also had almost $20,000 in cash, according to investigators.
Police recovered two guns, face masks and zip ties, which were used to bind people inside the house. In one of their cars, they also found hotel stationary with a rough sketch of roads in the SkyRidge subdivision and on the other side a layout of the interior of the condominium where Gordon was shot.
Durango Police Detective Brad Roach said Flores admitted to entering the home with the intent to steal marijuana, but he said he blacked out while inside the house, and the only thing he could remember was hearing a gunshot.
Flores is scheduled for an arraignment at 2 p.m. Nov. 8 in District Court, where he is expected to enter a plea to the charges.