A Cortez man was found guilty of menacing and reckless endangerment charges in Montezuma District Court on Thursday.
Ruben Duran, 33, was on trial this week before District Court Judge Douglas Walker after being accused of trying to run his wife’s car off the road in 2015, according to court documents. He faced two counts of felony menacing, two counts of felony criminal mischief, two misdemeanor counts of reckless endangerment and one misdemeanor count of reckless driving.
A jury of five men and seven women found Duran guilty of the menacing and reckless endangerment charges after about three hours of deliberation on Thursday. The jury acquitted Duran of the criminal mischief charges. The reckless driving charge was not submitted to the jury, according to District Attorney Will Furse.
The trial started Monday before Judge Walker with Cortez Attorney Richard Sims representing Ruben Duran. Assistant District Attorney Matthew Margeson and Deputy District Attorney Sheena Goldsborough argued for the prosecution.
The jury was seated late Monday afternoon after a full day of jury selection hearings. Tuesday started with attorneys’ opening arguments and continued with witness testimony. Testimony wrapped up on Wednesday, and attorneys delivered closing arguments Thursday morning before the jury began deliberating about 10:45 a.m.
After the verdict was returned Thursday, Margeson and Goldsborough said in a joint email statement that prosecuting domestic violence is very important.
“As District Attorneys, we pledge our continued support to victims of all crimes and encourage those who suffer in silence to speak out,” they said in the statement.
Duran’s charges stem from a late-night incident on April 12, 2015, that extended into the early morning of April 13, according to an arrest affidavit filed in Montezuma District Court.
About 12:45 a.m. April 13, Duran’s then-wife, Alizya Duran, was driving to the bank to make a deposit after working the late shift at Sonic in Cortez, where she was an assistant manager, according to the affidavit and court testimony.
The couple divorced in February 2016, and Alizya is now known as Alizya Baker, according to her testimony.
Later, Baker told police Duran had sideswiped the Chevrolet Tahoe she was driving twice while a co-worker also was in the car, according to the affidavit.
Police later found evidence of damage, including paint transfer, to the Tahoe from the Chevrolet Silverado pickup that Duran was driving, according to the affidavit.
Baker told police that she noticed Duran following her after she left work. He telephoned her and told her to pull over, according to the affidavit.
She told police she was afraid to pull over because Duran sounded aggressive. After Baker was sideswiped near Pippo’s Restaurant on Main Street in Cortez, she ran off the road and nearly crashed into the building, according to the affidavit.
Baker flagged down Cortez Police officer Mark Adkins, who was patrolling on Main Street, near Pippo’s, the affidavit states.
In his opening statement Tuesday, Sims said Baker’s story was inaccurate. He said she intentionally crashed in to Duran’s truck, and both vehicles had previous damage.
Sims described Duran as a hardworking, loving father.
“Ruben Duran is a family man,” Sims said.
He told the jury that no one will ever know what happened on the night in question, and that would leave them with enough reasonable doubt to return a verdict of “not guilty.”
In emotional testimony on Tuesday, Baker said she and her co-worker, Giovanni Menendez, were both shaken by the incident.
“We were both scared,” Baker said.
Duran testified for just under two hours on Wednesday afternoon. He denied ever hitting the Tahoe that Baker was driving, and said he was in shock after the incident.
He also testified that the Tahoe had prior damage after a collision with a deer in 2010.
Duran testified that though he and Baker had some previous marital problems, they had never discussed divorce until after the April 2015 incident. He said Baker had accused him of infidelity.