Murder suspect appears for filing of charges |

Murder suspect appears for filing of charges

Pete Fowler
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
Jesus Hernandez de Jesus

GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colo. ” The suspect in the West Glenwood Springs fatal shooting appeared for formal filing of charges Wednesday.

Jesus Hernandez de Jesus, 33, was arrested in Clifton on June 26 on suspicion of first-degree murder and felony menacing. He appeared in a red jumpsuit and had court proceedings translated to him in Spanish by an interpreter using headset devices. Red jumpsuits are given to prisoners held in a maximum security part of the jail.

Ninth Judicial District Judge Daniel Petre indicated that the first-degree murder charge alone carries a minimum sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole to the maximum sentence of the death penalty.

Police believe that Hernandez de Jesus shot to death his 20-year-old nephew, Ricardo Navarrete-Prudencio the night of June 25 at the Ponderosa Lodge. It’s alleged that Hernandez de Jesus shot and killed his nephew because of an affair he had with Hernandez de Jesus’ wife in Florida. Navarrete-Prudencio told his mother he feared for his life and planned to return to Mexico that week to avoid his uncle, according to an arrest affidavit.

There was mention of four motions filed by defense attorneys and one motion filed by prosecutors. But public access to Hernandez de Jesus’ case file is denied.

Petre, who’s now handling the case, did not modify or remove orders by Judge Denise Lynch sealing the case file and limiting pre-trial publicity. There was no mention of either in Wednesday’s hearing.

“My understanding is that when the file is sealed, that order seals the file of all current paperwork and any future paperwork that may be headed for that file,” said Clerk of the Combined Courts for Garfield County James Bradford.

Public defender Garth McCarty, who appeared on behalf of Hernandez de Jesus, indicated the defense plans to file many more motions in the future, one of which will request Hernandez de Jesus be allowed to wear regular clothes for trial instead of prison garb. A motions hearing was set for July 20.

The question of whether criminal justice records should be sealed is not black and white, said Denver-based attorney Chris Beall, who serves as legal counsel for the Colorado Press Association, of which the Post Independent is a member. It comes down to a constitutional question of whether there’s a “substantial overriding public interest” in keeping the information in the records secret.

“The problem is that more and more these days officials are sealing these documents because a public defender or a prosecutor asks for a sealing and a judge grants the request without really understanding the First Amendment issues that are at stake,” Beall said. “There should never be an umbrella sealing order in a case. Every single motion should be evaluated on its own merit. … An umbrella order sealing a file is unconstitutional. It doesn’t allow for individual consideration for whether the public interest is harmed or served by making the particular document available to the public.”

Office head for the regional public defenders’ office Tina Fang, who requested the seal and gag order, didn’t immediately return a phone message Tuesday afternoon.

Contact Pete Fowler: 945-8515, ext. 16611

Post Independent, Glenwood Springs Colorado CO

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