Double murder trial of Coronado pupil murders nears finish Colorado Springs Information

Prosecutors this week closed their case against Marco Garcia-Bravo, a man charged with double homicide in the alleged gang killings of two teenagers at Coronado High School in 2017.

The final prosecutor’s testimony came Wednesday morning, bringing a trial that began in mid-September closer to a verdict.

The defense plans up to six days of testimony to end the four-month-old trial and possibly get the case on track to close the arguments next week.

After the arguments have been concluded, the case goes to a jury for discussion.

Garcia-Bravo, 23, is charged with the murders of Natalie Cano-Partida, 16, and Derek Greer, 15, in March 2017. The two were kidnapped from a party in Colorado Springs and driven to a remote location outside of Fountain and were kneeled for execution murders allegedly committed by two armed men, including the defendant.

Authorities say the killings were planned by a gang called South Side Soldados, who suspected Cano-Partida was conspiring with rival gang members involved in shootings in two homes associated with the loosely knit Soldados. Greer was killed because he happened to be with Cano-Partida, his friend, the night they were captured at gunpoint.

Ten people were arrested in the case, five of whom were charged with first degree murder for allegedly playing a direct role in the fatal kidnapping. Garcia-Bravo is the last of the group to be prosecuted.

If convicted, Garcia-Bravo faces life imprisonment. Prosecutors initially prepared to prosecute the death penalty against him, but withdrew their offer in April, a month after Governor Jared Polis signed an overturning law that introduced the death penalty for new cases filed July 1 and later have been eliminated.

The study is nearing completion despite repeated delays related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The presiding judge, 4th District Judge David A. Shakes, paused the trial for two weeks in November after unspecified exposure to coronavirus. Two more delays occurred after jurors awaited testing for coronavirus due to familial exposure.

Another potential stumbling block came when a key witness, co-defendant Alexandra Romero, signed COVID-19 during a record-breaking coronavirus outbreak in El Paso County Prison starting October. Shakes ordered Romero to testify, despite her attorney’s complaints, that Romero appeared symptomatic and could pose a threat to people in court. The judge said he consulted with county health officials who approved the woman’s testimony.

Shakes arranged for four alternate jurors to continue the process if members of the 12-person panel were unable to retire. Two of the four substitutes were fired for health reasons, both in December, and two more will have to intervene if further problems arise.

The Garcia-Bravo case was the county’s only exception to a regional jury ban introduced in late November after a nationwide spike in coronavirus infections. It was convened with a number of safety precautions, including the requirement of masks and social distancing.

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