The 9th Judicial District Attorney’s office is holding off on filing formal charges against Josue Israel Joya, 20, who police allege drove the prime suspect to the scene of the fatal shooting in Glenwood Springs on July 31.
Joya had been scheduled to face formal charges on Wednesday of conspiracy to commit murder, a felony offense, and perhaps also of murder in the first degree, according to his court file.
The delay comes as prosecutors mull whether “fewer and lesser” charges are more appropriate given the evidence in the case, according to 9th Judicial District Attorney Sherry Caloia.
“We’d like to look at all the police reports … before making a final charging decision,” she said. “There is some question as to whether the listed charges are appropriate.”
The Glenwood Springs office of the Colorado Public Defender also confirmed on Tuesday that Joya would be given a separate attorney from the prime suspect in the shooting, 39-year-old Fredy Cabrera of Blue Lake.
Public defender Tina Fang is representing Cabrera, but federal law does not allow alleged co-conspirators to be represented by the same attorney. As a result, Fang said, a judge will likely appoint Joya a so-called “alternate defense council” in the coming days. Such lawyers are private defense attorneys who volunteer to take cases that the public defender cannot.
According to his arrest warrant affidavit, Joya told police that he drove Cabrera to the scene of the shooting on July 31, but he denied knowing at the time that a shooting would take place.
The shooting resulted in the death of 21-year-old Douglas Menjivar, and it left 18-year-old Leydy Trejo wounded. Trejo is Cabrera’s stepdaughter and Menjivar was Trejo’s boyfriend.
The relationship between Joya and Cabrera remains unknown.
The affidavit says that Joya fled the scene without Cabrera after he heard gunshots, and had no contact with Cabrera between the shooting and the time of his arrest on Aug. 3. Joya’s next court appearance is scheduled for Wednesday, Aug. 21.
Last week, Fang filed a flurry of pre-trial motions on behalf of Cabrera. Among other things, the motions requested a gag order on press coverage of the case and restrictions on who can access Cabrera’s jail visitation records.
Scott Turner of the 9th Judicial District Attorney’s Office, who is prosecuting Cabrera, fired back on Tuesday with challenges to several of the motions.
On the jail visitation issue, Turner argued in court documents that visitation records should not be confidential because they do not in themselves reveal confidential information.
Turner also disputed a motion asking that no hair or saliva samples be taken from Cabrera while he is in custody. That point is moot, Turner argued, because such samples already were taken shortly after his arrest. He turned himself into authorities in Mesa County shortly after the shooting.
In response to a request from Cabrera’s defense team that the prosecution preserve all notes kept by law enforcement officers during the shooting investigation, Turner requested that any correspondence between his office and police investigators in the case be kept confidential, to avoid revealing prosecutor’s theories about the case.
Turner consented to a request from Fang that she be notified — and present — whenever prosecutors plan to interview Cabrera.
Turner fought back, however, against Fang’s motion asking that an advocate for the defense be present during all evaluation of evidence in the case. That motion is meant to insure that the defense team can challenge the prosecution’s interpretation of any evidence.
“To provide laboratory access to some unnamed, unknown individual would infringe upon the security of the facility and potentially compromise the method by which the tests are conducted,” Turner wrote in his rebuttal.
Judge Denise Lynch, who is presiding over the Cabrera case, could rule on the various motions at Cabrera’s next scheduled court appearance on Aug. 21.
The District Attorney’s office also is expected to file formal charges at that hearing, and Lynch also could rule on the question of whether Cabrera is too wealthy to quality for the legal services of a free public defender.