Prosecutors to call son as witness in Navarrete-Portillo murder trial
Prosecutors said during a hearing Tuesday that they intend to call Arturo Navarrete-Portillo’s son as a witness in the man’s first-degree murder trial.
Navarrete-Portillo is charged with killing his wife, Maria Carminda Portillo-Amaya, with a machete in their Carbondale apartment in February 2015. The defendant later attempted suicide by crashing his vehicle into the back of a cattle truck, according to police.
After the accident and after his initial treatment at Valley View Hospital, he told investigators and a member of the flight crew transporting him to St. Mary’s Hospital in Grand Junction that he had killed his wife, according to an affidavit.
Navarrete-Portillo’s ex-wife, Mirium Delcid-Delcid, told police Navarrete-Portillo was supposed to watch their 6-year-old son on Feb. 15 and 16, but that he showed up to drop their son off in the early morning Feb. 16 smelling of alcohol and saying he’d made a “big mistake.” He said he was going to turn himself in to police, she told investigators.
Because of the boy’s age, and because the defense raised the issue, the court must have a competency hearing to determine if any testimony from the boy would be allowed in the trial.
Judge James Boyd did not make a decision on when that competency hearing would be, leaving the possibility that it could be held during the trial.
Public Defender Elise Myer was concerned that the prosecution would attempt the place the child on the stand and use “child hearsay,” a Colorado statute that Judge Boyd said expands the types of allowable evidence in a trial, allowing a child’s out-of-court hearsay statements as evidence.
Deputy District Attorney Michael Barrett said the prosecuting team did not intend to introduce child hearsay.
Boyd allowed the defense to subpoena the boy’s school records, though it’s unclear to what end. A recent court order in a separate custody case granted sole custody to the boy’s mother and gave her sole authority to make major decisions in the child’s life.
So the judge required that the boy’s mother be notified of the subpoena and be informed of the court date when she could dispute it.
The defense has also moved for a court order forcing the prosecution to disclose the evidence or statements from Navarrete-Portillo’s son that the prosecution plans to introduce in the trial. Likewise, it would require the prosecution to disclose what statutes or rules of evidence the prosecution plans to use to admit that evidence in the trial.
Boyd will hear arguments on that motion during Navarrete-Portillo’s next court appearance at 9 a.m. Feb. 22, where the scheduling of the competency hearing will also be determined.
His jury trial is scheduled for 10 days starting May 31.
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