Man convicted in 2019 for killing his wife is back in Glenwood Springs waiting for new trial
A former Grand Junction man who had his 2019 murder conviction involving his estranged wife in Glenwood Springs sent back for a new trial was in Garfield County District Court Thursday to determine the next steps.
Gustavo Olivo-Tellez, 33, won an appeal last summer to have his second-degree murder case retried. He had been convicted by a Glenwood Springs jury for the 2016 shooting death of Blanca Salas at her home outside of Glenwood Springs while the couple was separated.
His new attorney, Brooks Robinson, said during the Thursday hearing before Chief District Judge John Neiley that he has not had time to study up on the case, and will likely ask Olivo-Tellez to waive his right to a speedy trial.
Otherwise, Neiley said, the trial will need to be scheduled by October. Both Robinson and Deputy District Attorney Don Nottingham agreed that would be a difficult time frame in which to prepare for a new trial.
The first matter to be dealt with, is a hearing to determine bond. A hearing was set for 9:30 a.m. May 25 to deal with that and other procedural matters. In the meantime, Olivo-Tellez has been returned from the Colorado Department of Corrections to the Garfield County Jail, and is currently being held without bond.
Olivo-Tellez was sentenced following a more-than three-week-long trial in February-March 2019 to 48 years in prison. He served time in the Crowley County Correctional Facility while awaiting his appeal.
Olivo-Tellez allegedly shot Salas twice in the face and twice in the abdomen, and then fled the scene at the Pinon Pines Apartments in Spring Valley with his then 3-year-old son.
He then allegedly confessed to his girlfriend that he had killed Salas, and disposed of the gun he used in the Roaring Fork River, according to documents in the case.
After a six-hour interview, he also confessed to police, but before the trial, Judge Neiley denied Olivo-Tellez’s attorney’s motion to have that confession suppressed on grounds that it was not voluntary. Neiley also rejected multiple defense calls for a mistrial during the trial itself.
A three-judge Colorado Court of Appeals panel in July 2022 agreed with Olivo-Tellez’s attorneys and remanded the case for a new trial.
According to the ruling, Olivo-Tellez believed that his wife was seeing someone else. He and the girlfriend, Michelle Castillo, were to go target shooting, but because of his immigration status, he could not purchase bullets for his gun, so he had Castillo buy the bullets for him.
After the shooting, and after abandoning his car in Rifle, he, Castillo and the son all drove to Olivo-Tellez’s home in Grand Junction. He later was arrested in a nearby motel by the Grand Junction Police Department’s SWAT team.
Olivo-Tellez was initially charged with first-degree murder, but the jury acquitted him on those charges and instead convicted him of second-degree murder, saying that they were rejecting his “heat-of-passion” defense.
Nottingham said during the Thursday hearing that the District Attorney’s Office has been in touch with Salas’s sister and mother, and indicated that they would like to see the case retried sooner than later.
Post Independent interim Managing Editor and senior reporter John Stroud can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 970-384-9160.
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