Teen ‘danger to the community,’ judge says in refusing him bond
A 16-year-old Clifton boy accused in the shooting death of his friend was ordered held without bond after a prosecutor Monday aired fresh allegations of drug use inside his home, while suggesting the boy is enamored with firearms and explosives.
Mesa County Magistrate Kevin Kennedy called Kenneth Cates a “danger to the community,” during Cates’ juvenile detention hearing and ordered Cates to remain jailed at Grand Mesa Youth Detention Center. Cates has been housed there since his arrest Friday in the Sept. 1 death of 16-year-old Troy Martinez.
In refusing to set bond, Kennedy said he was concerned about Cates’ apparent easy access to firearms and ammunition at the homes of his mother and grandmother, both in the 600 block of Susan Street. Kennedy also noted Mesa County sheriff’s deputies found suspected marijuana and methamphetamine paraphernalia in a search of the home of Cates’ mother, after Martinez was shot and killed there.
Cates told investigators he accidentally shot Martinez using a pistol he’d found in the grandmother’s garage, adding he’d shot the weapon into a mattress at his home the day prior to Martinez’s death, according to an arrest affidavit.
“Nobody seems to have noticed it (pistol) was gone,” Kennedy said. “And nobody had a clue what you were doing. Where is the adult supervision?”
The judge said he “had questions” about the presence of drugs in the home.
Martinez was found shot in the face Sept. 1 in front of 619 Susan St. and was pronounced dead on the scene, the affidavit said. Cates initially claimed he and Martinez were trying to take apart a .22-caliber round, when it exploded and fatally wounded Martinez.
Cates, however, didn’t give a sit-down interview with investigators until nearly a week later, when he acknowledged firing the weapon into a crawl space in the home before pointing the pistol at Martinez and pulling the trigger. Cates told investigators he believed the weapon was empty.
Roughly a dozen family members and friends of Troy Martinez attended Monday’s detention hearing, including a relative who told the judge Cates was a “murderer, thief and a liar.”
Tony Martinez, Troy’s father, asked Kennedy to keep Cates locked up pending trial.
“I just don’t want him to hurt someone else,” Tony Martinez said. “I can’t forgive him right now, maybe later.”
Aside from alleged drug paraphernalia, Chief Deputy District Attorney Trish Mahre told the judge that investigators searching Cates’ family home found firearms’ cartridges and bullets “all over” the property.
Mahre said Cates’ grandmother gave a statement to investigators suggesting her grandson had been warned about making bombs and setting them off in the area. Just last week, days before Cates’ arrest, deputies were called to the area on a report of juveniles setting off fireworks, Mahre said. Cates was among those who received a warning.
“All of it is indicative of his behavioral issues regarding firearms,” Mahre said.
A neighbor who addressed the judge Monday also claimed Cates recently threatened a boy in the area, allegedly promising to, “put him where Troy is.”
An investigator with the sheriff’s department sat in on Monday’s court hearing, taking notes.
Cates’ mother, Virginia Higgs, offered sympathies to Martinez’s family but added, “the portrayal of me and my son in our home is inaccurate and unfair.”
“We’ve had some problems, but nothing he did was out of malice,” said Higgs, adding her son “knows better” than to point a loaded weapon at another person.
“He was raised better than that,” she said. “He’s going to be held accountable.”
On the drug paraphernalia allegedly found in the home, Higgs told the judge, “I’m not confirming or denying that.”
Cates is scheduled to return to court next week.
He surrendered to authorities Friday after learning a warrant had been issued for his arrest for reckless manslaughter, tampering with evidence, illegal possession of a handgun by a juvenile, false reporting to authorities, and two sentence-enhancing counts alleging a crime of violence.