3 counts of murder charged in Clifton shooting

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A Clifton man was charged Tuesday with first-degree murder and a litany of other counts in connection with what prosecutors say was a racially motivated slaying of another man in Clifton last month.

Prosecutors filed six counts against 24-year-old Michael Simpson: three counts of first-degree murder, six counts of first-degree assault, one count of first-degree burglary, four counts of committing a bias-motivated crime and two counts of committing a crime of violence. The bias-motivated crime and crime-of-violence counts are sentence enhancers that could increase any punishment Simpson might receive if he’s found guilty.

Simpson is accused of killing 50-year-old Marco Ramon Acosta-Estrella and wounding three others July 28 outside an apartment at 468 Mae St. Authorities have said the victims were celebrating a child’s birthday when they were shot.

Colorado’s hate-crime statute covers any crime committed with the intent to intimidate or harass another person because of that person’s actual or perceived race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, physical or mental disability, or sexual orientation.

A second Clifton man, 24-year-old Joshua Cole, was charged with two counts of being an accessory to a felony crime and one count of possession of a weapon by a previous offender.

Prosecutors had contemplated charging Cole with first-degree murder because of complicity, but Chief Deputy District Attorney Dan Rubinstein told District Judge Richard Gurley he doesn’t have any information at this point to indicate “that Cole knew in advance what was going to occur.”

Investigators have not released additional details about the shooting, including a possible motive, although arrest affidavits in the case are scheduled to be unsealed Friday morning.

Simpson continues to be held in the Mesa County Jail on $1 million bond. Cole’s bond was cut from $500,000 to $25,000 in light of the reduced charges.

Both men are scheduled to have preliminary hearings Nov. 23.


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