Jury selection underway for two murder trials in Durango

Thursday, Aug. 16, 2018 4:59 PM

Two murder trials that began Monday spent the first two days selecting jurors.

Jury summons were sent to 300 people in each case, and coincidentally, 113 people showed up for both cases at the La Plata County Courthouse, said Dawn Jose, La Plata jury commissioner.

Residents showed up Monday morning for jury duty, creating a line of potential jurors that wrapped around the corner of the building as they filed through security.

The murder trials are unrelated, but both incidents occurred in 2017 in the Lightner Creek Mobile Home Park, just west of Durango city limits.

The trials are for Michael Jones and Silvino Martinez-Perez, and both are scheduled for two weeks, Jose said.

Jones of Texas is suspected of shooting David Gaytan, 34, once in the chest during a marijuana robbery gone bad. The shooting occurred in May 2017 at unit No. 36 in the mobile home park, 907 Lightner Creek Road (County Road 207).

He is charged with first-degree murder, three counts of aggravated robbery, three counts of felony menacing and tampering with physical evidence.

Authorities believe Jones traveled to Durango from Texas with the intent of buying a large amount of marijuana, along with two co-defendants Kevin Goff, 27, and Alysse Rios, 20.

Gaytan was shot as the deal was being made, authorities have said. It appears Jones allegedly pulled a gun out when the marijuana was being sold, and Gaytan lunged at him.

In January, Jones pleaded not guilty.

Martinez-Perez of Durango is suspected of strangling his wife, Crystal Martinez-Perez, 33, on April 16 in Unit No. 7. Martinez-Perez called 911 to report he killed his wife.

He is charged with first-degree murder, abuse of a corpse and three counts child abuse.

Martinez-Perez told investigators he and his wife had an argument the night of the incident, which ended with him putting his wife in a choke hold, causing her to pass out.