A district court judge on Tuesday found probable cause to support 10 charges against a Texas man suspected of shooting and killing a Durango man during a marijuana robbery.
Michael Jones, 20, is charged with first-degree murder, robbery, conspiracy to commit robbery, menacing, tampering with evidence, and possession of a weapon by a previous offender.
Jones, along with two co-defendants – Kevin Goff, 27, and Alysse Rios, 20 – are suspected of traveling from Texas to Durango with intent to rob someone of a large quantity of marijuana, according to law enforcement and court proceedings.
The trio made several attempts to buy marijuana on May 13 but were unsuccessful. The next day, they arranged to buy marijuana from someone at Unit No. 36 in the Lightner Creek Mobile Home Park.
Jones is suspected of pulling a gun while Goff grabbed the marijuana. Rios waited outside in a black Chevy Impala with the engine running to serve as a getaway driver.
When Jones pulled the gun, David Gaytan, 34, lunged toward him, and Jones shot Gaytan in the chest, according to arrest affidavits.
The trio made a getaway, but not before neighbors and witnesses obtained a vehicle description. The Colorado State Patrol found a vehicle matching the description about 10 hours later in Chaffee County, which includes Salida, about 200 miles northeast of Durango.
All three were arrested in connection with the shooting.
La Plata County Sheriff’s Investigator Thad McNeely testified Tuesday about text messages that were sent prior to the suspects coming to Durango, which suggested they planned ahead of time to steal marijuana rather than purchase it illegally.
In addition to the text messages, Deputy District Attorney Reid Stewart said several other factors indicated premeditation, including:
The suspects didn’t have the $5,000 or $6,000 needed to purchase several pounds of marijuana, so they obtained two $100 bills and 100 $1 bills to make it look like they had a stack of $100 bills.Jones obtained a handgun just before his trip to Colorado.Rios stayed outside with the engine running to serve as a getaway driver.As soon as Jones pulled the gun, Goff grabbed bags of marijuana as if it were pre-planned.Jones’ public defense lawyers, Justin Bogan and Annie Woods, said prosecutors lacked probable cause on all counts, including adequately identifying Jones as the perpetrator.
Woods also said prosecutors failed to show Jones conspired to commit robbery, intended to commit robbery, took anything of value, is the person who hid the gun or is a previous offender who possessed a gun.
District Judge William Herringer disagreed, finding probable cause on all 10 counts.
An arraignment is set for 8 a.m. Dec. 8, at which time Jones is expected to plead.