Guilty plea made in Clifton slaying

A Grand Junction man faces up to 90 years in prison after he reversed course Monday and pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in the shooting death of a man attending a child’s birthday party.

Michael Simpson, 24, pleaded guilty in the shooting death of Marco Ramon Acosta-Estrella, 50, and second-degree assault in connection with shots that wounded three other people at the party, including Jorge Hernandez, who attended the hearing.

The possible 90-year sentence, Hernandez said through an interpreter, is “adequate, because he did it,” Hernandez said after the hearing.

Simpson pleaded not guilty in late January to a first-degree murder charge in connection with Acosta-Estrella’s death on July 28.

Simpson offered to plead guilty to the lesser charge “soon after” the results of forensic testing were known, Chief Deputy District Attorney Dan Rubenstein said.

At a minimum, Simpson will be in prison for 31 years under the terms of the agreement.

Mesa County District Judge Richard Gurley will decide on June 2 how many years Simpson will serve.

The agreement requires that Simpson serve a minimum of 16 years on the second-degree murder charge and at least fives years each on three second-degree assault charges.

Simpson, according to an arrest affidavit, opened fire on the house at 468 Mae St. in Clifton, firing at least seven shots. Four children were in the home at the time.

A man who was with Simpson agreed in January to testify against him.

Joshua Cole, 24, told investigators Simpson was upset after a fight with his girlfriend and was “looking for a fight” after a night of drinking, the affidavit said.

Simpson was uncooperative and intoxicated while he was being booked into Mesa County Jail, uttering several racial epithets, according to court papers.

One of the charges that was dismissed was that of a bias-related crime.


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