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Jury trial begins for Grand Junction man linked to 2018 Carbondale overdose death

Attorneys continued jury selection Wednesday for the trial of a man accused of distributing fentanyl pills that resulted in the overdose deaths of two men in Garfield and Mesa Counties. The jury selection began Monday for the case of Bruce Holder of Grand Junction.

Holder is charged with distribution of a controlled substance (fentanyl) resulting in death, namely, the death of John Ellington of Carbondale. The charge is punishable by up to life in prison and a $20 million fine. Holder also faces five other federal charges.

Ellington died Dec. 28, 2017 by overdose on Dec. 28 in Carbondale after coming into contact with fentanyl or a fentanyl mixture.

The Garfield County Coroner’s Office confirmed that Ellington died that day of fentanyl intoxication.

A second man identified in court records as “Z.G.” survived a near-fatal overdose the same night, according to court documents.

An affidavit in support of the warrant details an investigation which began in early 2018 after an overdose death in late 2017. Law enforcement contacted an individual named Z.G., who survived death by overdose due to the administration of NARCAN.

“Z.G. identified the potential cause of his overdose, little blue pills marked with an “M,” and began the trail of information which ultimately led to Defendant Bruce Holder,” court records state.

Holder is accused of purchasing large quantities of fentanyl-laced pills from Mexico and distributing them throughout Western Colorado.

Tanner Crosby, 18, died May 19, 2018 from a fentanyl overdose. The source of the fentanyl could be traced back to Holder, according to court documents.

Lexus Holder, Corina Holder, Geri Bochmann, Jessica Brady, and Marie Matos were indicted by a federal grand jury on similar charges for their involvement with distribution of the fentanyl supplied by Holder.

Those defendants have each entered pleas of guilty in this matter and are currently scheduled for sentencing once they fulfill the conditions of their plea agreements, which include potential testimony in the trial of Holder.

Reporter Shannon Marvel can be reached at 605-350-8355 or smarvel@postindependent.com.

Motions in Torreyson murder case seek to catch defendant up on evidence

A slew of motions by Glenwood Springs murder defendant Trevor Torreyson, who is representing himself, continues to further delay the now two-and-a-half-year-old case.

In a Tuesday review hearing before District Judge James Boyd, Torreyson said he is missing thousands of pages of discovery documents, and wants his advisory counsel to forfeit their appointment to his case.

Torreyson, 44, stands accused of beating Keith Wayne to death on June 20, 2018, during what police investigators indicated was a night of heavy drinking involving the two homeless men in a small private park area off Storm King Road in West Glenwood.

Torreyson has remained in the Garfield County Jail on $1 million bond since his arrest the day after the incident at his nearby camp along Interstate 70.

Since taking on his own defense in September, Torreyson said he has been busy trying to obtain all of the documentation and evidence in the case from the various court-appointed attorneys who have represented him.

He has also filed eight different motions, ranging from asking for documents to seeking new advisory counsel in his case.

Attorneys appointed to advise a defendant in a criminal case can offer procedural advice, but do not fully represent a client who is acting pro se.

“A lot of these motions aren’t clear enough to understand what he is requesting, and what grievances he has,” Chief Deputy District Attorney Steve Mallory said during the Tuesday hearing.

Appearing before the judge via the videoconference application Webex from the county jail, Torreyson said he is “missing well over 9,600 pages of discovery,” and has not been given reasonable access to digital evidence in his case.

A half-day motions hearing was scheduled for the morning of Jan. 20, 2021, which could lead to the scheduling of a preliminary hearing in the case.

Wayne, 56 at the time of the incident, was found dead the night of June 20, 2018 near several car dealerships in West Glenwood off of Storm King Road, with wounds on his left temple consistent with blunt force trauma.

The first officers on the scene found dry blood boot tracks on the concrete, leading west from the scene.

When police arrested Torreyson the next day, he was discovered in his campsite with blood on his boots, pants, shirt and arms, according to evidence in the case.

Police initially identified Torreyson as the primary suspect because of a bandana officers found at the scene under Wayne’s body, which officers recognized from previous contacts with the defendant.

jstroud@postindependent.com

140 mph car chase from Utah ends in Eagle County

Two men were arrested Wednesday for allegedly leading law enforcement on a multi-state car chase that damaged a Parachute police car — and carrying large quantities of drugs.

Deputy District Attorney Tony Hershey said the chase endangered hundreds of lives.

“This is a car chase that covered two states and three counties, and put, I would say, hundreds of lives at risk. Fortunately, we’re in a quarantine and there are not many drivers,” Hershey said during a teleconference advisement hearing Thursday.

The driver, 34-year-old Andre Watkins, faces multiple felony and misdemeanor charges, including distribution of a schedule 1 drug which carries a maximum prison sentence of 30 years.

According to a probable cause document filed in the 9th District Court, law enforcement started following a speeding Chevrolet Camaro in Utah. Colorado State Patrol picked up the chase briefly in Mesa County on Interstate 70, where the car was allegedly traveling between 130 and 140 mph.

Colorado State Patrol informed the Parachute Police Department to be on the lookout, as the car would likely have to stop to refuel.

A Parachute officer spotted a white Camaro with a black convertible roof, and followed as it exited the highway in Parachute to get gas.

Around 4:50 p.m. Wednesday, the Parachute officer approached the Camaro at the gas station.

“As I drove closer to the vehicle, it accelerated towards me at a high rate of speed veering to my left and narrowly avoid hitting my vehicle and the fuel pumps,” the Parachute officer wrote in an affidavit.

The chase resumed, and the car tried to make a wide turn in the Turkey Park area, spun in the grass and started heading toward the officer’s car.

“I had to turn hard to the right as the vehicle seemed to turn at the very last moment and the front driver’s side door collided with the front of my vehicle,” the officer wrote.

The officer was uninjured.

The collision damaged the bumper of the patrol car, estimated to cost about $300 to repair.

The chase resumed with state patrol and other agencies pursuing the car east on I-70 through Glenwood Canyon.

The car exited the highway at Grizzly Creek, then proceeded eastbound in the westbound lanes of the upper deck — which is currently closed for construction.

The car crossed back to travel in the eastbound lanes at the Hanging Lake exit.

Westbound traffic at the Hanging Lake Tunnel was shut down temporarily, then eastbound traffic was stopped at the tunnel while law enforcement pursued the vehicle into Eagle County.

Law enforcement tried unsuccessfully to end the chase using stop strips multiple times as the car “made extremely aggressive maneuvers to avoid running over the strips,” according to the affidavit.

The vehicle passed several other cars on the shoulder, and at one point passed between two semi-tractor trucks on the two-lane freeway.

It is believed that Camaro came to a stop after it ran out of gas near the town of Eagle, according to the affidavit, and the two men fled south on foot. Watkins and the passenger, who is 25, were arrested at gunpoint after a brief foot chase.

In the trunk of the Camaro, state troopers found “three large garbage bags containing a green leafy substance which smelled like marijuana,” and a pound of pills that later tested positive as Ecstasy/MDMA.

Both suspects are from Illinois. Judge Denise Lynch set Watkins’ bond at $1,000, and the passenger received a personal recognizance bond with $1,500 attached to it.

The two suspects are required to appear either in person or by phone for an arraignment May 12.

tphippen@postindependent.com