Judge lets DA rescind plea deal in killing
Garfield County District Judge John Neiley issued an order Tuesday allowing the district attorney to rescind a plea deal struck earlier in the case of Michelle Castillo, who’s now charged with first-degree murder.
Castillo was initially charged as an “accessory after the fact” in the October slaying of Blanca Salas-Jurado, whose body was discovered with multiple gunshot wounds in her apartment south of Glenwood Springs. She pleaded guilty to that charge in March, but her plea agreement required that she be interviewed by investigators and that she give a truthful narrative of the events of the crime.
Law enforcement cut that interview off early, not believing that she was giving a credible account. The DA’s office then filed a notice of intent to withdraw from the plea agreement, and prosecutors filed a new charge of accomplice to first-degree murder.
Following a hearing Monday on the DA’s withdrawal from the plea deal, Neiley issued the order under suppression; therefore, District Attorney Jeff Cheney said he could not discuss the judge’s rationale behind the decision.
Castillo is scheduled for a May 22 preliminary hearing, where the prosecution will have to provide enough evidence to justify continuing the case toward a trial.
In a preliminary hearing in late March, Neiley also determined there is enough evidence to try Castillo’s boyfriend and the victim’s estranged husband, Gustavo Olivo-Tellez, who prosecutors say was the gunman. He faces a first-degree murder charge.
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