7-year-old boy has competency hearing in father’s murder case
Arturo Navarrete-Portillo’s 7-year-old son appeared for a competency hearing Wednesday to determine whether he can testify in his father’s first-degree murder trial.
Navarrete-Portillo, from Carbondale, is accused of murdering his wife with a machete in February 2015. Police say the homicide took place sometime late the night of Feb. 15 or early morning Feb. 16, but either way Navarrete-Portillo crashed his 4Runner into a cattle truck that morning in an attempt to commit suicide, according to police.
Later, on a life flight from Valley View Hospital to St. Mary’s in Grand Junction, he told a member of the flight crew that he didn’t want to live, that he’d done “something very bad,” according to an affidavit in the case.
The prosecution intends to call the young boy to testify, saying he was a witness to the homicide. His son was 6 years old at the time.
In addition to the first-degree murder charge, the Ninth Judicial District Attorney’s Office filed a second charge of child abuse in December.
Assistant District Attorney Anne Norrdin told the court that the boy was nervous before the hearing. But the defendant’s son seemed excited to see his father when he came into the courtroom.
The boy’s mother told Judge James Boyd in a previous hearing that the 7-year-old wanted the court to give his father back.
Navarrete-Portillo and his son smiled as they stole glances at each other. Chatting with court personnel before going into the judge’s chambers for the hearing, the young boy said he wants to be a police officer or a judge when he grows up.
Boyd granted a defense request to close the competency hearing from public view. By the end of the day the judge had not made a ruling about the boy’s competency to testify.
Prosecutors and defense attorneys also gave their final arguments on several defense motions, many of which seek to suppress physical evidence or testimony.
The attorneys argued over defense motions seeking to suppress Navarrete-Portillo’s blood-soaked clothes that Grand Junction police confiscated from St. Mary’s Hospital, evidence found in Navarrete-Portillo’s SUV and incriminating statements he made to medical staff and a medical flight crew member while he was being transported.
The defense also argued for its motion to dismiss the case based on destruction of evidence. The Colorado Bureau of Investigation processed and photographed Navarrete-Portillo’s SUV after the crash, but the CBI lost those digital photographs.
The defense says the photographs contained evidence that could help Navarrete-Portillo and that the condition of the car conveyed his mental state on the day of the homicide.
Boyd said he would issue written orders on the motion to dismiss and many of the suppression motions rather than make those rulings from the bench.
The judge rejected a defense motion to sever Navarrete-Portillo’s two charges into separate trials with two different juries.
The defense argued that the jury would not be able to judge each charge individually – that the homicide evidence would prejudice the jury while they are trying to weigh the child abuse charge.
The defense has also filed a motion for prosecutors to disclose what statements they intend to illicit from Navarrete-Portillo’s son.
Navarrete-Portillo still has at least a couple more hearings before his 10-day trial, scheduled to begin May 31.
He’ll next be in district court on April 8, when Judge Boyd is expected to give an update on when he plans to make rulings on the many motions in this case.
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