Once jury selection is complete, the Superior Court trial to decide if Derrick Barnett is guilty of killing a couple in Williams and fleeing to Colorado will be set to begin.
The trial is likely to start this week in Judge Dan Slayton’s Division 2 courtroom. Ammon Barker is the lead prosecutor representing the state while Roberta McVickers is representing Barnett as a public defender.
Michael Dimuria, 67, and wife Nora Dimuria, 64, were killed in their Williams home on May 1, 2017. There were bullet casings found inside the home from 9 mm and 5.6 mm firearms.
Barnett was wanted in suspicion for the murders. He was eventually arrested by the Colorado State Police and Montezuma County Sheriff’s Office after police used their vehicles to knock Barnett’s truck off of the highway. The high-speed maneuver caused his truck to roll off the side of the road.
Video of the highway pursuit was entered as evidence and will be shown during the trial.
In the trial, Barnett will fight two charges of first-degree murder. In 2005, Barnett was found guilty of burglary resulting in $15,000 in damages to the victims. He was sentenced to four years of probation, which forbade him from possessing firearms.
The police believe he committed the killings in Williams with a 9 mm pistol and a rifle, which were found in his car when officers arrested him in Colorado.
In the final pretrial hearing on Thursday, the outcome of multiple motions was decided, giving insight to the cases of the prosecution and defense.
The defense attempted to keep the firearm evidence out of court, because it was taken by officers with no knowledge of the defendant’s probation status. Given how Slayton ruled, it could have been a violation of his Fourth Amendment right against unwarranted search and seizures.
Slayton denied the motion.
“I do not find that it is a requirement for the officers to know he was on probation in order to collect the weapons,” Slayton said.
Barnett’s defense was led by McVickers, a public defender. The defense had filed multiple motions to suppress evidence, which would make the prosecution’s case harder to lay out.
The two pieces of evidence that will be admitted into the trial surround the question of whether Barnett stole money from the Dimuria property, and whether to admit extra ammo found near the Dimuria residence.
The money-related evidence Barnett’s defense hoped to block was a witness to fortify the prosecution’s assertion that the Dimurias kept money on their property. According to the prosecution’s case, this money was stolen by Barnett after the killing.
While no money was found in Barnett’s possession when he was arrested, according to the prosecution, in the time between the killing and his arrest he had allegedly used cash to purchase a new car, food and toilet paper.
Barker also asserted that Barnett’s brother was told by Barnett himself after the murder, “I have come into some cash.”
The money, repeatedly referred to as “cash” by both sides, caused quite a back-and-forth in front of the judge, causing McVickers to allege that allowing the witness to be admitted as evidence could create “a minitrial about the cash.”
However, Slayton allowed the witness to testify on trial. Slayton also allowed a collection of ammo found in a black backpack to be entered as evidence.
The prosecution hopes to use the ammo in a larger set of evidence to establish a sort of breadcrumb trail to set Barnett in and around the Williams area right before the murder took place. That setting begins a week before the murder at the camper trailer where Barnett was staying with his father.
The state will allege that Barnett traveled to a location near the Dimuria home and spent the night before the murder camping, leaving a spoon at his campsite with his DNA on it. He then allegedly walked to the residence, leaving a backpack on the side of the road near the home with ammo and a black bible with his children’s names and birth dates in it.
That ammo was allowed to be entered into the case and not suppressed by Slayton.
Assuming jury selection goes on without a hitch, opening statements could begin as early as Wednesday.