WELD COUNTY, Colo. — Editor's note: The name of the suspect has been corrected in this story due to updated information provided by the Weld County Sheriff’s Office.
The man accused of hitting and killing a Weld County sheriff's deputy who was headed to work and then fleeing into a cornfield has previously been convicted of DUI after two separate crashes, including one hit-and-run, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement said.
Norberto Garcia-Gonzales, whose identity was confirmed through fingerprinting, was arrested late Monday night in Fort Collins in connection with Sunday's death of Deputy Alexis Hein-Nutz. He faces charges of careless driving and leaving the scene of an accident.
Hein-Nutz was riding her motorcycle to the jail where she worked when the crash happened near the intersection of AA Street and Weld County Road 37, according to the Weld County Sheriff's Office.
A witness reported that she was stopped at the stop sign on AA Street headed eastbound and saw the crash happen, an arrest affidavit says. Traffic on WCR 37 does not have a stop sign at the intersection.
The witnesses said she saw the motorcycle approaching and waited to proceed and then saw the vehicle driven by Garcia-Gonzales pull out directly in front of the motorcyclist.
The front of the motorcycle collided with the right side of the vehicle and was redirected to the right and fell over, the affidavit says. Hein-Nutz, who was wearing a helmet, was pronounced dead at the scene.
According to the witness, the lone occupant of the vehicle, later identified as Garcia-Gonzales, ran from the crash scene into a cornfield.
Investigators found an open empty bottle of Bud Light on the front floorboard of his vehicle and a "broken open" can of Modelo beer on the center console. An unopened can 12 pack of beer was found between the front seats. All of those items were collected as evidence along with a cellphone that was found on a passenger floorboard.
The airbag which deployed as a result of the crash was also taken as evidence since it appeared to have a small amount of blood on it, the affidavit says.
Investigators identified Garcia-Gonzales as a suspect after locating the registered owner of the vehicle who told that Garcia-Gonzales and another man used it to drive to work. She said that both men worked at a landscaping company.
The woman provided phone numbers for both men but investigators were unable to reach Garcia-Gonzales. Investigators contacted the company where Garcia-Gonzales worked and were provided a photo that showed him clocking in. The company also confirmed that Garcia-Gonzales drove that vehicle.
Garcia-Gonzales had his first court hearing Tuesday afternoon and is currently being held on a $500,000 bond. He was taken into custody using the handcuffs that belonged to Hein-Nutz, the sheriff's office said.
Suspect's criminal history
Garcia-Gonzales doesn't have authorization to be in the country, according to the Weld County Sheriff's Office and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
ICE said that Garcia-Gonzales was arrested by U.S. Border Patrol in Arizona in 2007 and was granted a voluntary return back to Mexico, where he is a citizen. He re-entered the U.S. at some point and was arrested for DUI in Greeley in August 2011. He was convicted in January 2012, ICE said. In January 2013, he was convicted of a second DUI and hit-and-run in Greeley, according to ICE.
In May 2013, an immigration judge granted him a voluntary departure, ICE said. He failed to leave the U.S., and that same month was given a final order of removal. He has been an ICE fugitive since that order was issued, ICE said.
After this most recent arrest, ICE placed a detainer on Garcia-Gonzales with the Weld County jail.
Hein-Nutz joined the Sheriff's Office in 2018 and was assigned to the Weld County jail as a detention deputy.
The Sheriff's Office is accepting donations to help the family through this difficult time. The public can make a tax-deductible donation to the Weld County Sheriff's Office Posse and note Deputy Alexis Hein-Nutz in the memo. Checks can be sent or dropped off at Weld County Sheriff's Office headquarters, 1950 O St. Greeley, CO 80631. Include your name, address and phone number to receive a tax letter.
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