DA: ‘Trophy’ killing capped 14-hour spree
A group of men allegedly robbed two Grand Junction businesses at gunpoint and burglarized a home where they stole guns they later used in a gangland-style “trophy” killing outside North Avenue’s Taco Bell last year, a senior Mesa County prosecutor disclosed in a recent court filing.
All this happened in a remarkable 14-hour crime wave on July 16, 2011, allegedly started by gang members on the run from a murder in California.
A court filing on Oct. 12 from Chief Deputy District Attorney Dan Rubinstein in the case against 21-year-old Christian Fuentes includes the most detailed allegations to date about events in Grand Junction that day. Arrest records in the case are still sealed.
Rubinstein’s disclosure of new information was made in response to a defense motion in Fuentes’ case.
“At trial, the people intend to show defendants currently at-large (Jaime Cardenas, 21, and Fidel Silva, 25) were evading law enforcement on belief that they were being sought by the authorities in a California murder,” Rubinstein wrote in the filing. “(Fuentes) was the alleged getaway driver in a murder committed by (Cardenas and Silva) in East Palo Alto, Calif., and took them to New Mexico to stay with his father.”
Cardenas and Silva were alleged Norteño gang members, while the prosecutor claims they trying to “impress” other members of the gang, according to the filing.
Fuentes, who hails from Grand Junction but was living at the time in East Palo Alto, Calif., brought the duo to Grand Junction because he had leftover ties to the area, the filing states.
“They did not have much money and had agreed to commit a robbery of a check cash store,” Rubinstein alleges.
Advance America Cash, 2502 U.S. Highway 6&50, was hit around 9 a.m. on July 16.
“On at least one occasion while they were on the trip, (Cardenas and Silva) discussed with (Fuentes) they wanted to get a ‘trophy’ for their gang. This involved killing a Sureño,” Rubinstein alleges in the filing.
Seeking more cash, the trio allegedly targeted a home in the 2600 block of Chestnut Court, the filing said. They failed at first, “unable to get a safe out of the house with the vehicle they had.”
Fuentes contacted a friend, 19-year-old Lester Miranda-Davis, of Clifton, who rented a U-Haul to finish the job that afternoon, Rubinstein wrote.
They got away with ammunition and multiple guns, the filing alleges.
Now joined by Miranda-Davis, the foursome allegedly robbed Teller Arms Liquor, 2353 Belford Ave., about 5 p.m., while weapons believed to have been stolen from the home are seen on video surveillance images from the crime, Rubinstein said.
Fuentes and Miranda-Davis drove around Grand Junction together allegedly looking for a shooting target, while Cardenas and Silva stayed a local hotel, the filing said. They all met up one more time.
“They parked the vehicle down the street from the Taco Bell where (Fuentes) had just seen and identified the victims for (Cardenas and Silva),” the filing said.
At 10:45 p.m., Cardenas and Silva allegedly opened fire, killing Jorge Carrasco, 31, and wounding two others who were also standing outside.
They allegedly used the same guns stolen earlier, leaving shell casings at the scene matching those stolen from the Chestnut Court home, Rubinstein wrote.
The foursome sped away. Miranda-Davis stayed behind as Cardenas, Silva and Fuentes drove to Denver, where they sold the stolen items from the burglary at a pawn shop.
Miranda-Davis pleaded guilty in August to second-degree murder, menacing and robbery. He faces 24 to 48 years during sentencing Nov. 15.
Fuentes is being held at the Mesa County Jail on $1.5 million bond.
Cardenas and Silva are still on the Grand Junction Police Department’s 10 Most Wanted list.