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Victor Salazar pleas not guilty at arraignment

Man is accused of murdering his cousin, murder trial set for Aug.

by Eric Mullens
WALSENBURG —  During a formal arraignment hearing in Third Judicial District Court Monday in Walsenburg, accused murderer Victor Salazar, 39, pleaded not guilty to all charges associated with a shooting incident last summer in which his cousin was killed.
Salazar, who remains in custody without bond at the county jail, was accompanied by his attorney Patrick McCarville of the public defender’s office when he entered his not guilty plea on charges of first degree murder (after deliberation), possession of a weapon by a prior offender, felony menacing and child abuse.  Salazar also faces a number of sentencing enhancement charges in connection with murder case (17CR65).
The arraignment February 26 followed a January 5, 2018 preliminary hearing in which the court found probable cause to move forward with the case.
The state’s murder case is being conducted by special prosecutor Michael Angel, Assistant Colorado Attorney General.
The hearing this week was scheduled as one of three hearings involving the defendant.  The other two were scheduled preliminary hearings on charges of assault and first degree arson unrelated to the murder case.  However, no action was taken regarding those cases as both sides agreed adjudication of those cases will follow the murder trial, which was set for August 6 through 10, 2018.  The trailing cases, 17CR76 and 17CR101, will be handled by the Third Judicial District Attorney’s office.
Huerfano County Judge Clay McKisson presided over the arraignment hearing Monday and District Attorney Henry Solano was at the prosecution table alongside Angel.
Salazar is alleged to have shot and killed his cousin, 41-year old Steve Salazar in the front yard of the victim’s parent’s home at 1434 CR 590 in the Toltec neighborhood around 4 pm, Tuesday, June 6, 2017.  Steve Salazar was rushed by ambulance to Spanish Peaks Regional Health Center where he died of multiple gunshot wounds at approximately 5 pm that same evening.
The defendant allegedly fled the scene in a black pick up truck ending up in Walsenburg’s south end of town, where it is believed he disposed of the murder weapon.  The suspected murder weapon has never been recovered.
Shortly after 5 pm that evening, a call was received at the county 911 dispatch center from a citizen reporting an unknown man appeared to be hiding on the roof of an unoccupied home on San Antonio Street.  With that information relayed to authorities at the scene in Toltec, Huerfano Sheriff Bruce Newman, sheriff’s deputies and Colorado State Patrol Troopers assisting the sheriff’s office, converged on the location and took the suspect into custody without incident.
The victim’s parents were at their home when the alleged shooting happened and a young family member was also present, which provided the basis for the child abuse / menacing charge presented during the January 2018 preliminary hearing.
The court has scheduled a motions hearing in the murder case for June 28.
The Huerfano Sheriff’s Office secure the scene of a shooting death on CR 590 in early June 2017. Pictured at left HCSO Deputy Ben Bounds and Sheriff Bruce Newman. WJ file photo by Eric Mullens