Couple who prompted police standoff in court


Two Craig residents whose intertwining cases stem from a standoff with police appeared in Moffat County Court on Friday for preliminary hearings on separate felony charges.

County Court Judge Mary Lynne James deferred ruling on whether to bind over a case against Jonathon Crook, 23, to district court.

Crook is accused of holding police at bay outside his Barclay Street home with a "dangerous weapon" for 12 hours July 26 in connection with an alleged domestic dispute.

Crook's girlfriend Megan Valenzuela, 18, told police that he had punched her in the left eye and choked her.

James has to decide whether there is probable cause to go forward with the case against Crook on charges of attempted second-degree murder, causing serious bodily injury and possession of a firearm. Crook is in custody at the Moffat County Jail on $50,000 bail.

Later Friday, Valenzuela, who previously admitted to police that she smashed two Colorado State Patrol cars with a hammer July 30 because she was angry that she could not talk to Crook behind bars, waived her preliminary hearing and may agree to a plea with prosecutors.

Valenzuela, who was arrested in that case, is being held at the Moffat County Jail on a $5,000 bond and faces charges of criminal mischief, obstructing government operations and tampering with a motor vehicle.

Valenzuela, as the victim in Crook's case, was a witness at his preliminary hearing Friday and testified to the court about the events leading up to the July 26 incident. Upon questioning from Crook's defense attorney Sheryl Uhlmann, Valenzuela said that she lied to police when she told them that Crook had choked her to the point of blacking out; that she had been on a methamphetamine binge the previous day; and that Crook knew a gun had been brought into the house but that he wanted it removed.

Valenzuela also admitted in court that she made contact with Crook on the phone while in jail to tell him that she still wanted to be together. Upon questioning, she said she wanted to reunite with Crook and get married.

"I forgive him for what he's done," she said,

According to police documents, Valenzuela first told police that Crook had a shotgun in the house and that he had sawed off the end of it. In the late July incident, police made calls inside the house to lure Crook out but received no reply. They waited until almost 4 a.m. early July 27 to fire tear gas into the house, and Crook came out immediately and was arrested, according to court documents.

In light of Valenzuela's testimony, Uhlmann sought a dismissal.

"There is evidence that a weapon was brought over to the house but not that Crook was in possession of it," she said.

Deputy District Attorney Amy Fitch said it's not unusual for victims of domestic violence to recant their stories. Fitch pushed for the case to proceed because she said Crook knew a gun was in his home, but it wasn't removed from the home.

According to court documents police found a sawed-off shotgun in the home.

Valenzuela will next appear in the 14th Judicial District Court on Tuesday for arraignment.

The judge set no timetable for deciding whether to bind over the charges against Crook.

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