by Eric Mullens
WALSENBURG — A plea bargain was proposed in the cases of illegal marijuana cultivation / possession involving a couple from Miami, Florida who supposedly moved to Colorado to capitalize on the legal medical / recreational pot industry, but who found themselves outside the law following the deadly shooting of an alleged home invader at their rental property earlier this year.
Agustin Garcia and Janice Camacho appeared in Huerfano District Court Monday, June 20. Both are free on bond from the marijuana charges.
No charges were ever filed in connection with the shooting death of Jorge Gonzalez, 39, one of three alleged home invaders who came to the couple’s rented residence on Huerfano County Road 530 Monday, March 14, 2016 bent on robbing them. The remaining two alleged home invaders have never been identified.
This week, Joseph Koncilja, Garcia’s defense attorney, proposed a plea agreement to Third Judicial District Attorney Frank Ruybalid. That agreement was spelled out to District Judge Claude Appel on Monday and the two scheduled preliminary hearings were cancelled.
The proposed plea agreement calls for Garcia to plead guilty to a DF3 (drug felony) and agree to pay up to $10,000 in cash for court costs and fees and up to another $10,000 for costs incurred during the sheriff’s office and coroner’s office investigation into the matter.
Garcia, under the terms of the agreement, will receive a deferred sentence on the felony drug charge and all charges against his co-defendant, Camacho, will be dismissed.
Ruybalid told the World Journal the CBI report concerning the fatal shooting of Gonzalez, found no prior link between the couple and the victim, and it (the shooting) appeared to be a legitimate, justifiable homicide, in defense of premises.
Ruybalid said the district attorney’s office never got a report confirming the plants found at the couple’s grow operation was actually marijuana, only the weight of the 400-plus plants seized by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency during the initial investigation. The DA said the federal agency refused to press federal charges due to the low amount of marijuana found at the site.
Ruybalid also said he did not receive any DEA or CBI reports concerning alleged suspected drugs found in a safe at the home.
Koncilja said the couple had state-issued medicinal marijuana grow permits for their Huerfano County operation that covered over 200 individual plants. However, there is no record either Garcia or Camacho ever applied for the necessary Conditional Use Permits required by Huerfano County to grow any number of marijuana plants above the amount prescribed by county ordinance.
The DEA seized all of the marijuana plants and materials used in the grow operation.
Garcia’s case is set for formal sentencing Thursday, July 14 at 1:30 pm. Camacho is represented by Pueblo attorney Allison Ernst.