Two men – one of them a suspected Mexican national who had been flagged for deportation – will face murder and other charges in the early morning killing of a man at a west Denver light rail station.
Denver District Judge Andrew McCallin ruled late Friday afternoon that there was sufficient evidence to try Nathan Valdez, 18, and Ever Valles, 19, in the Feb. 7 slaying of Tim Cruz at an RTD station at 12th Avenue and Sheridan Boulevard.
McCallin’s ruling came after a preliminary hearing convinced him both men should be held without bail. He scheduled an arraignment for both June 30.
Valdez, the suspected shooter, faces three counts of first-degree murder, two counts of robbery and two counts of kidnapping.
Valles – whose status as a potential target for deportation sparked controversy after his arrest – faces two counts of first-degree murder, two counts of kidnapping and four counts of robbery.
Valles, as 9Wants to Know first reported, was awaiting trial on an earlier car theft case at the time of the shooting. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials had flagged Valles for possible deportation back in October, placing a detainer on him in an effort to get the Denver Sheriff Department to notify federal authorities the moment he was eligible to leave the jail.
On Dec. 20, 2016, the sheriff’s department notified ICE via fax at 11:33 p.m. that Valles was about to walk out of the jail after posting a $5,000 bond. Twenty-six minutes later, Valles left the jail. ICE officials were not able to pick him up.
At Friday’s hearing, surveillance footage of the incident was played in court – challenging Valles’ earlier claim that he was an unwitting participant in what started as a robbery and ended in a killing. During his initial police interview, Valles claimed that Valdez shot him in an effort to get rid of a witness, Denver detective John Meoni testified.
“Fool, you saw two much – I’m going to have to kill you, too,” Valles claimed that Valdez said before opening fire, Meoni testified.
In fact, surveillance footage from the light rail station captured the shooting from two different angles – and Meoni testified that a man believed to be Valdez was trying to hit Cruz in the head with a pistol when it discharged, hitting a man believed to be Valles in the rear.
The train station was closed at the time of the incident.
Meoni testified that the surveillance footage showed that Cruz first called out to the two men prosecutors allege were Valdez and Valles, both of whom were wearing masks. They approached Cruz, and after a conversation, one of the men pulled a gun. The two masked men then went through Cruz’s pockets and then led him to another part of the platform.
At that point, the man with the gun swung his arm to hit Cruz, apparently fired the gun by accident and hit his accomplice. A moment later, he shot Cruz in the head and arm.
In an interview with police, Valles claimed that Cruz was looking to buy heroin when he approached the two men.
After police released photographs of the masked men, several people came forward with information that led to the arrests of Valdez and Valles.