Judge OKs moving forward with Castillo murder case
In a preliminary hearing Thursday, a district court judge approved moving forward with a first-degree murder charge in the case of Michelle Castillo, a woman accused of being an accomplice in a homicide near Glenwood Springs.
In a separate hearing, her boyfriend Gustavo Olivo-Tellez, who prosecutors say killed his estranged wife, Blanca Salas-Jurado, in her apartment south of Glenwood Springs in October, was set for a 20-day trial starting Feb. 1.
Castillo and Olivo-Tellez were arrested in October 2016 in Grand Junction after investigators say they fled Glenwood Springs following the homicide.
In the preliminary hearing Thursday, Matt Jenness, one of the primary investigators in this homicide, recounted the timeline that authorities constructed through evidence and statements. After being arrested, Olivo-Tellez eventually admitted to killing his wife, saying he had planned the killing for about a week, Jenness testified.
Jenness said Olivo-Tellez and Salas-Jurado were in an ongoing dispute over his relationship with Castillo. The mother was threatening to keep Olivo-Tellez from contacting their 3-year-old son if he continued to see Castillo, said the investigators. Jenness said this conflict was Castillo’s motive to want Salas-Jurado out of the way. With Salas-Jurado out of the picture, Castillo and Olivo-Tellez would be able to be in a relationship unhindered, said the investigator.
Prosecutors say Castillo traveled from Glenwood Springs to the Denver area the morning of the homicide, picked up Olivo-Tellez, went with him to a Walmart and purchased the 9 mm ammunition that would later be used to kill Salas-Jurado. Jenness called this one of the biggest indicators of her role as an accomplice in the homicide.
Defense attorneys homed in on the evidence of Castillo’s activities prior to the homicide, saying that this evidence was purely circumstantial and the prosecution was relying only on inferences to conclude Castillo’s knowledge of the impending homicide and her complicity in the crime.
But prosecutors said that Castillo’s behavior after the homicide, her immediately leaving Glenwood with Olivo-Tellez without question, her going with him to toss the gun, ammunition and his cell phone into the Roaring Fork River, her pulling $1,000 cash out of the bank and her trying to get a Grand Junction hotel room under a friend’s name all point to someone who was a knowing partner in the crime.
Castillo also faces a charges of accessory to first-degree murder and weapons possession by a felon. The judge bound those two counts over in a previous preliminary hearing. At the beginning of her case, Castillo was only facing those two counts.
Her first-degree murder charge is a more recent development. After she earlier accepted a plea deal, Castillo was supposed to give investigators an interview about the events surrounding the homicide. But investigators cut this interview off after they didn’t believe what Castillo was telling them. They rescinded the plea deal and then added first-degree murder to her charges.