Prison sentence upheld in wife’s death in 2004

The Colorado Court of Appeals upheld a conviction for a former Grand Junction man accused
of strangling to death his wife in 2004.

Hector Omar Zambrano is serving a life sentence in prison after being found guilty by a Mesa County jury of first-degree murder of Patricia Reyes on April 10, 2004.

Zambrano’s conviction was appealed by the Colorado State Public Defender’s Office on grounds that prosecutors provided insufficient evidence of the client’s deliberation and intent to kill his wife, and that some testimony in the case was inadmissible.

Zambrano assaulted Reyes in February 2004 and was ordered not to have contact with her.

The two separated but met at a bar and left together on the night of April 9.

The next day, Zambrano called police to report Reyes had died at his home, 2853 Elm Circle, No. 1.

Zambrano testified during the trial that the two had fought after Reyes told him her family didn’t like him, that she was having an affair and that she would return to Mexico. Zambrano admitted to grabbing her neck and strangling her.

Zambrano’s defense attorney, Steve Laiche, argued during the trial that his client committed the act in the heat of passion, but prosecutors maintained Zambrano’s actions were premeditated.

The morning after Reyes’ death, Zambrano gave his son a crucifix necklace and personal items, saying that he had “disgraced himself” and that he “might be going away for a long time.”

“Defendant expressly indicated a motive and a willingness to kill his wife; his question to his coworker concerning where he could buy a gun could, in context, have been interpreted as expressing an intent and plan to kill his wife; and his actions after the murder suggested that he did not believe the killing had been a mere accident,” Colorado Court of Appeals Judge J. Jones wrote in the opinion published Dec. 11, 2008. Judges Dailey and Bernard concurred.

“Evidence need not be of an act exactly like the act for which the defendant is charged to be admissible,” Judge Jones penned in his opinion.


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