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Former cop to be tried for second degree murder

LA JUNTA — One week ago today, former Rocky Ford and Walsenburg police officer James Adam Ashby, 31, was bound over for trial on charges that include second degree murder stemming from an on-duty shooting that happened in the early morning hours of October 12, 2014 in Rocky Ford. Arraignment on charges which include second-degree murder, criminally negligent homicide and a violent crime resulting in death or injury are set for 11:30 am Thursday, February 12. Ashby remains free on a $150,000 bond. The day long preliminary hearing featured testimony of Kyle Moore, a recent graduate of the Otero Community College’s criminal justice program, who was doing a ‘ride-along’ with Ashby on the night of the shooting, as well as Otero County Coroner Robert Fowler, and a Colorado Bureau of Investigation agent. Fowler testified the entrance wound was found on 27-year old Jack Jacquez’s back. He said the bullet went through three of the four chambers of Jacquez’s heart and stopped behind his left breast. Fowler further testified the shot

severed Jacquez’s spine, heart and lung before lodging in his chest. Jacquez, who was “immediately rendered a paraplegic,” according to the coroner’s report, died of blood loss shortly after the shooting, which took place at 2 a.m. Oct. 12. Moore, the brother of another Rocky Ford police officer, testified in the show cause hearing Jan. 15, that Ashby pulled his car along Jacquez, who Ashby reportedly saw him riding his skateboard near the shoulder of US Hwy. 50, which is near the victim’s home, located in the 400 block of North Third St. Moore testified much of his vision of events was blocked by a large tree, but said he did not hear any yelling or screaming from Jacquez during the initial interaction with Ashby. He said Ashby got out of his marked patrol car, but Jacquez continued to walk towards his home. Moore said he stayed in the police vehicle until after the shooting when he brought a first aid medical kit to Ashby on the porch of Jacquez’s mother’s home. Moore said on the stand, he could hear loud banging on the door of the home prior to the shots being fired and heard Ashby yell “Show me your hands” twice, and then after a 15 to 30 second pause, heard the officer yell, “Drop the bat”. A moment later he heard the two gunshots. Gregg Slater of the Colorado Bureau of Investigation was the third person to testify at the preliminary hearing and talked about the statement Ashby gave investigators following the killing, and details of the full investigation conducted by the state agency. Ashby said he followed Jacquez into the yard because he thought he was trespassing at the home. Ashby told investigators Jacquez knocked or kicked on the door at the home, and at one point reached into a bag he was carrying, prompting Ashby to pull his gun and order him to show him his hands. Ashby said Jacquez did remove his hand from the bag and showed him there was nothing in it. Ashby allegedly then holstered his duty pistol and grabbed Jacquez, who pulled the officer into the home as he entered. Ashby said he thought Jacquez was breaking into the home when he heard a voice inside say “What are you doing here”? That voice was that of Jacquez’s mother, Viola. Ashby said Jacquez grabbed a baseball bat in the dimly lit home, but he was able to see it was a light colored bat with the word ‘Wilson’ on it. He said he yelled twice for Jacquez to drop the bat, and then in fear the man was going to hit him, drew his duty weapon once again, and backed away towards the back door of the home. He then fired two shots at Jacquez from less than ten feet away. The affidavit for Ashby’s arrest, sealed until the hearing last week, said while Ashby believed Jacquez was trespassing onto the property and attempting to commit a burglary, no physical evidence or witness statements corroborated that belief. The affidavit also said evidence collected in the investigation, including witness statements, say from the moment of the initial contact Jacquez continually attempted to disengage from Ashby while the officer aggressively pursued the victim. “Even though it is more likely than not, that Jacquez was in possession of a baseball bat at the time Ashby shot and killed him, physical evidence indicates Jacquez was facing away from Ashby at the time Ashby shot Jacquez and Jacquez was not a threat to Ashby”, the affidavit, prepared by the CBI, said. The CBI said Ashby lied about circumstances that led up to and followed the shooting, and found many of his statements contradicted physical evidence and witness accounts. In an interview last month with the Denver Post, Viola Jacquez said she was sitting on her bed when she heard her son’s knock on her back door. When she unlocked the latch at about 2 a.m., her son stepped into the kitchen followed by Ashby, who angrily raised his gun inches from her head and fired. “I froze,” said Viola Jacquez, 59. “Honestly, I froze. I could not speak, but I could see. It was one of those moments where you’re falling off a cliff.”