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Judge unseals Navarrete-Portillo warrant

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Judge unseals Navarrete-Portillo warrant

Machete found in closet

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By John Colson

Sopris Sun Correspondent

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The man accused of slashing his wife to death in Carbondale earlier this year told police he “kind of went crazy” on the morning of Feb. 16, which is when he allegedly used a machete on his wife as she lay on a bed, fully clothed and awake, according to court documents unsealed on Wednesday by Ninth Judicial District Judge James Boyd.

But, according to an affidavit in support of an arrest warrant for Arturo Navarrete-Portillo, 46, the alleged killer, he was unable to recall why he was angry with his wife, Maria Carminda Portillo-Amaya, 30, or what they had been talking about in the early morning hours that day.

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He said no one was in the apartment, located on Cooper Place, at the time, and that his wife did not cry out or defend herself as he allegedly attacked her.

He told police that he attacked his wife in the early hours of the morning, but that it was light outside, and that he had used a large knife “he uses for work. Not a folding knife, (motions with his hands indicating the length of knife to be 12 to 18 inches). He trims trees,” the affidavit reported.

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A machete was found in a closet off the room where the killing occurred, and was reported to be “covered in a brownish red substance consistent with the appearance of blood.”

Afterward, Navarrete-Portillo said, he was so distraught by what had happened that, according to the affidavit filed by Carbondale Police Officer Luke Blue, he ran out into the street and got into his Toyota pickup and started driving. He said he “wanted to kill himself.”

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Police got involved when Navarrete-Portillo crashed his pickup into an empty livestock truck on Highway 133 at shortly after 7 a.m. that morning. Navarrete-Portillo was sent to Valley View Hospital for treatment of serious injuries sustained in the accident, and later was transferred by plane to St. Mary’s Hospital in Grand Junction.

It was during the flight that Navarrete-Portillo reportedly told a member of the flight crew that he had killed his wife earlier that day.

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While talking with police at St. Mary’s, a conversation that was translated from Spanish by a Grand Junction police officer, Navarrete-Portillo indicated that he “did something very bad” and that he expected to be jailed for it and then to be deported “back to El Salvador” after he served a sentence in prison.

Carbondale police learned of Navarrete-Portillo’s statement at about 1:30 p.m. that day, and found Portillo-Amaya’s body in an apartment at 30 Cooper Place later that afternoon, roughly nine hours after she had died.

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The court documents detailing the investigation were unsealed on April 1 following a hearing before Judge Boyd.

At that hearing, a public defender asked that the affidavit remain sealed out of concern it would hamper the defendant’s ability to get a fair trial, in part because “the facts contained in the arrest documents are vivid and may be shocking to the members of the public,” according to documents on file at the courthouse.

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But the judge concluded that the public’s right to know what is going on in the courts outweighed the arguments made by the defense, and unsealed the affidavit.

A more complete summary of the court documents will be published in next week’s Sopris Sun.