Man charged in murder to enter plea on Dec. 22

A Clifton man charged with first-degree murder in the shooting death of another man during a child’s birthday party is scheduled to enter a plea next month.

Michael Simpson, 24, waived his preliminary hearing this week and will enter a plea Dec. 22, according to Mesa County Chief Deputy District Attorney Dan Rubinstein. A preliminary hearing is used to determine whether enough evidence exists to take a defendant to trial.

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.

Simpson has been charged with 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.

A second Clifton man, 24-year-old Joshua Cole, was reportedly with Simpson during the shooting. He 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.

Cole told investigators Simpson was “looking for a fight” and upset with his girlfriend after a night of drinking. While Simpson was being booked into the jail, deputies said they overheard him making racial comments and repeatedly saying he was sorry for the shooting, according to court records.


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