Investigation details emerge in Hayes murder

Friday, June 1, 2012 12:05 AM

On Jan. 6, two men were dropped off on a rural county road near Dolores. Only one of them would be seen again alive.

Details have emerged in the case of Luther Hampson, 27, who is accused of the murder of 27-year-old Jonathan Hayes.

Tuesday’s preliminary hearing was to determine if there was sufficient evidence for the case to proceed.

After hearing testimony and arguments, Chief Judge Douglas Walker ruled there is sufficient evidence for Hampson’s case to go forward.

Hampson is charged with one count of first-degree murder and four sentence enhancing charges involving violent crime and habitual criminal.

Montezuma County Sheriff’s Office Detective Tyson Cox testified in Tuesday’s hearing, saying evidence and witness statements indicated Hampson and Hayes had a verbal fight some time around Dec. 31. On Jan. 6, the two men were dropped off on County Road T after Hampson said they should go for a walk.

Hampson later emerged from a canyon more than a mile away and sought help at a residence there, Cox testified. According to the resident at the home, Hampson had a cut on his hand and blood on his clothing.

When asked if he had hurt himself, Hampson reportedly said “No. People shouldn’t piss me off.”

Hayes was found dead by hikers on Jan. 14 near where the men had been dropped off. He appeared to have sustained multiple blunt blows to the face and a wound to the neck.

State Special Prosecutor Daniel W. Edwards is assisting the local district attorney’s office in the case. Edwards is part of the state attorney general’s Homicide Assistance Team, which provides support to homicide investigations and prosecution.

Edwards argued that Hampson was angry at Hayes and his statements after the death are indicative of his guilt.

“Mr. Hampson knew that Jonathan Hayes had been stabbed before that information was released to the public,” Edwards said.

Representing Hampson, attorney Justin Bogan argued the prosecution had failed to meet their burden of proof, and asked the first-degree murder charge be dropped.

“They are using Detective Cox as a conduit for all this hearsay,” he said.

Cox testified that in an interview with investigators, Hampson said he and Hayes had gone to get high with someone who lived on County Road T on the night of Jan. 6, but the resident was not home. Instead, Hampson said the two men went out back and drank alcohol, Cox added.

When Hampson wanted to go to Cortez and Hayes wanted to go to Dolores, Hampson told investigators the two parted ways and he didn’t see Hayes again.

At first Hampson said he got the wound on his hand from falling down. Cox said Hampson later changed his story and said he sustained the injury when he was attacked by an unknown assailant and assumed Hayes had escaped.

A relative of Hayes told investigators that Hampson carried a straight-edged razor in his back pocket.

The handle of such a razor was found approximately 150 yards from the body, but the blade was never recovered, Cox said. A substance believed to be blood on the handle and other objects at the crime scene has not yet been DNA tested by Colorado Bureau of Investigation labs.

According to a background check, Hampson has a history of theft, methamphetamine possession, possession of burglary tools, parole violation and careless driving, but no violent crimes.

Hampson’s next arraignment is set for July 17.

Reach Reid Wright at