Husband in Carbondale slaying pleads not guilty |

Husband in Carbondale slaying pleads not guilty

Arturo Navarrete-Portillo
Staff Photo |

Arturo Navarrete-Portillo’s nine-day murder trial will begin on Feb. 16, 2016 — exactly one year after he rear-ended a cattle truck and told emergency workers en route to the hospital that he had killed his wife.

Maria Portillo-Amaya’s body was discovered in their Carbondale home later the same day. Her death was ultimately ruled a homicide, with the cause of death listed as “multiple sharp force trauma,” apparently with a machete.

Navarrete-Portillo, 46, pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder on Wednesday. Speedy trial laws would typically have required the trial take place by Feb. 12, but Navarrete-Portillo agreed to extend the deadline to accommodate what Deputy Public Defender Elise Myer described as “hectic schedules” for both the state and the defense.

“I don’t want to be stuck in the precarious position where if something comes up on the event of trial we wouldn’t be able to ask for a continuance,” Deputy District Attorney Matt Barrett explained.

Navarrete-Portillo will next appear in court on Dec. 21 for a one-day hearing on any pretrial motions.

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In Wednesday’s arraignment, Barrett suggested that another charge may be added to the case, while Myer expressed plans to file suppression motions.

“I do think there are issues that need to be litigated,” she said.

If convicted of first-degree murder, Navarrete-Portillo faces penalties ranging from life in prison to execution, though District Attorney Sherry Caloia has indicated her office would be unlikely to seek the death penalty. He is being held in Garfield County Jail without bond.

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