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Rape case clears prelim

by Bill Knowles
WALSENBURG — The rape case against Daniel Willburn and Laqun Murphy moved forward on Thursday, Dec. 22, in Huerfano County. Willburn and Laqun were both called in on a joint preliminary hearing in an effort by the court to reduce both time and expenses in the case.
Willburn and Murphy both have been charged by the Walsenburg Police Department with nine counts each of criminal activity ranging from felony sexual assault of a female minor to interfering with the staff and students of an educational institution.
Clay McKisson, the Assistant District Attorney in Huerfano County, presented the evidence showing why he believed a crime had been committed and why he believed the two suspects arrested in the case are the culprits.
The initial investigating officer, Rich Isnetto of the Walsenburg Police Department, in his testimony highlighted how the female victim was subdued and taken from the campus at Peakview to an area west of the football field on Oct. 11. He was dispatched on a missing student call shortly after the victim had been found by her father and the school’s principal, over an hour after she had been taken.
Photos of the scene were taken with phone cameras by the victim’s parents and given to the police a day later in the investigation. The photos were submitted as people’s exhibits, drawing objections from defense attorneys Cobea Becker and Michael Thompson. Police also failed to tape off the area marking it as a crime scene.
On the evening of Oct. 12, the two suspects got into a heated verbal exchange with the victim’s father and her brother and police were summoned. Sheriff’s detective Craig Lessar was the first to arrive on the scene.
Shortly after Lessar’s arrival, Sheriff Bruce Newman and another sheriff’s deputy arrived. After a short conference with Walsenburg Police, the sheriff decided to take the two suspects into protective custody. It was later that arrest charges were filed in the case.
At the end of the hearing the judge ruled that there was sufficient evidence to move the case forward and set an arraignment date of Jan. 12, at 2 pm.
At the arraignments, both suspects, will officially hear the charges against them and will be asked to enter a plea of guilty or not guilty. The court will then decide whether to set bail or release them on their own recognizance.