Craig After nearly 11 hours of testimony Thursday, a judge ruled there’s sufficient evidence to move forward with a first-degree murder case against Craig resident Leroy David Fief.
A two-week jury trial is scheduled to begin at 8:15 a.m. June 17. In the meantime, 14th Judicial District Chief Judge Michael O’Hara ordered that Fief continue to be held without bond at the Moffat County Public Safety Center.
Fief, 48, is accused of killing 43-year-old Armando Shane Arrendondo on Dec. 9, 2012, in a parking lot in downtown Craig. Fief suspected Arrendondo was having an affair with his wife, Rose Fief, according to court records. Rose Fief acknowledged the affair during her testimony Thursday and said her husband had threatened violence against her and Arrendondo after learning about their relationship.
Thursday’s preliminary hearing in Moffat County District Court included lengthy testimony from Craig Police Department Sgt. Brian Soper, Detective Travis Young and Investigator Norm Rimmer, as well as Colorado State Patrol Trooper Chris Lorio.
Soper and Lorio were two of the officers who responded to the scene Dec. 9. During examination, Lorio testified that he arrived at the scene first and that Fief immediately surrendered to him, saying he had just “stabbed that man (Arrendondo) four or five times.”
Soper, who arrived moments after Lorio, carries a digital tape recorder and said Thursday that he turns it on when responding to emergency calls.
The prosecution submitted as evidence a seven-minute portion of Soper’s 14-minute recording. The recording depicts Soper’s efforts to revive Arrendondo through CPR and with a portable defibrillator, both of which ultimately would prove unsuccessful.
Rimmer, who also is serving as a witness adviser for the prosecution, spent the most time on the witness stand Thursday.
Rimmer interviewed Fief at about 5 a.m. Dec. 9 at the Moffat County Public Safety Center with Doug Winters, an investigator with the 14th Judicial District Attorney’s Office.
Both the prosecution and the defense submitted recordings of that interview — totaling more than 75 minutes — as evidence, but perhaps more compelling than the recordings was Rimmer’s testimony about the autopsy.
According to a report by a forensic pathologist in Loveland, Rimmer testified that although Arrendondo appeared to have what looked like five stab wounds, only one was life threatening.
Of the four stab wounds in Arrendondo’s chest and stomach — there also was one on his back near the spine — Rimmer said one went through the ribs, puncturing the left lung and one of the ventricles of the heart.
Rimmer then testified that during his interview of Fief, the accused killer said he confronted Arrendondo with a knife concealed behind his forearm and that his first strike was in an upward motion into the victim’s abdomen.
Also Thursday, the court heard testimony from Rose Fief, who was at the scene of the alleged crime. Though asked about the night of the incident, most of the questions directed to Rose Fief were in regards to her relationship with Arrendondo, which she admitted was intimate.
She testified that her extramarital affair began in July 2012 and that Fief first found out about it through Facebook and text messages. She also testified that Fief not only deleted all of her male Facebook contacts, but also threatened violence against her and Arrendondo.
The purpose of a preliminary hearing is for the prosecution to convince the court there is sufficient evidence that the suspect committed a crime with deliberation and intent.
Jeremy Snow, Fief’s attorney, argued to the contrary, saying Fief’s threats several months earlier were based on emotion and that there was no evidence he ever planned to kill Arrendondo.
Snow further argued that the confrontation and subsequent actions the night of Dec. 9 were the result of highly emotional and hasty actions that didn’t exhibit intent.
Although O’Hara found Snow’s arguments compelling, he sided with the district attorney and bound the case to district court.
The case is being prosecuted by 14th Judicial District Attorney Brett Barkey and Moffat County Chief Deputy District Attorney Matt Tjosvold.
After O’Hara bound the case over to district court and ruled that Fief be held without bond, Snow said his client wanted to immediately enter a not guilty plea instead of waiting for a formal arraignment.
A two-week jury trial begins at 8:15 a.m. June 17.