EAGLE — Williams Anderson Amaya, charged with first-degree murder in the deaths of his aunt and uncle late Saturday in El Jebel, might have planned to kill others, the district attorney said Monday.
Amaya made his first court appearance Monday morning after he was arrested early Sunday at his workplace south of Glenwood Springs. Amaya also will likely face attempted murder charges, said DA Bruce Brown.
Authorities allege that Amaya purchased a .380-caliber handgun Saturday and later that day killed his aunt and uncle, Mayra Lorena Lopez, 40, and her husband, Eliseo Lopez, 42. Their two teenage sons escaped, and one call 911.
“Other occupants appeared to be targeted during this event,” Brown said outside the courtroom. “It appears that similar means used against the victims were contemplated to be used against others. Some of the forensic evidence indicated that.”
The sons, whom authorities said are 13 and 14, are in the care of relatives.
Dressed in orange jail clothes, Amaya rocked back and forth in his swivel chair during Monday’s court appearance, his brown eyes wide as he looked around the courtroom from his seat at the defendant’s table.
His attorney, Reed Owens with the public defender office, sat beside him. Owens defended Rossi Moreau in one of Eagle County’s most recent homicide cases.
Brown and assistant district attorneys Joe Kirwan and Courtney Gilbert will prosecute the case.
In the courtroom, Amaya’s hands were cuffed in front of him, clasped to a thick leather belt around his waist. His feet were shackled with a two-foot chrome chain. A court-appointed interpreter explained to Amaya in Spanish what was happening.
Amaya’s charges are expected to be made official by July 25. He’s scheduled to be back in court at 9:30 a.m. July 28.
District Court Judge Russell Granger ordered Amaya held without bail because he is considered a flight risk.
“He fled the scene immediately after the crimes were committed,” Brown said.
Amaya is a resident alien, in the country legally from El Salvador. He reportedly graduated Aspen High School.
Amaya had worked at Colorado Pool and Spa Scapes, which is along Highway 82 between Glenwood Springs and Carbondale, for seven years.
Paula Busk, chief financial officer for the company, where Amaya worked as a service technician, described him Monday to the Post Independent as a “very conscientious” “good employee.”
Amaya’s job cleaning and balancing water chemistry in the field required a criminal and driving records check, neither of which turned up anything, Busk said. Although he didn’t work out of the office much, everyone at the company knew him.
“We’re all shocked and surprised,” Busk said. “Our hearts go out to the family.”
Amaya is eligible for the death penalty. Brown said it will be “weeks, if not months” before prosecutors decide whether to seek the death penalty.
Eagle County Coroner Kara Bettis said autopsies Tuesday will determine if the Lopezes were hit with single or multiple gunshots.
The shooting occurred at about 11:17 p.m. Saturday at the Lopez home at 160 Arapahoe in Sopris Village, a subdivision behind the El Jebel City Market in unincorporated Eagle County.
After contacting Amaya’s mobile phone provider to “ping” his phone, police surrounded Colorado Pool and Spa Scapes and called Amaya. He was arrested without incident at 5:40 a.m. Sunday. Police said they found the handgun allegedly used in the killings in his car.
Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 or firstname.lastname@example.org.