PUEBLO, Colo. (KRDO) -- A Pueblo man accused of shooting his neighbor in the chest was in court Friday and accepted a guilty plea in exchange for no jail time.
69-year-old Gilbert Jimenez is accused of firing one bullet at his neighbor, Roger Richards in February 2021. He was charged with attempted 1st Degree Murder. Friday, Jimenez pleaded guilty to 2nd Degree Assault and agreed to a plea deal for 10 years probation in lieu of a 12-year prison sentence. The sentence will be imposed after a pre-sentence investigation is completed by Pueblo County Judge Allison Ernst.
FACTS OF THE CASE
Arrest documents obtained by 13 Investigates, Pueblo police officers arrived on the scene to find Richards with one gunshot wound to his chest area. Richards was bleeding his nose and mouth area in the middle of the street on E Evans Ave.
When officers began interviewing Richards he told them that his neighbor, identified as Jimenez, shot him as they were discussing moving a parked car from the curb outside of his home. A verbal argument ensued and court documents say Jimenez's grandson shouted at Richards, "you got a problem?"
A neighbor nearby, identified as Monte Montenegro, told officers that Richards had no weapons on him and was not threatening Jimenez in any way. Montenegro said he feared for his life during the interaction. Arrest documents say Jimenez told Montenegro, "I'll get you next," after shooting Richards.
When detectives interviewed Jimenez, he told them that he felt threatened by both Montenegro and Richards. He accused Richards of coming at him "twice, if not three times." He told detectives he was simply defending himself.
Detectives interviewed Jimenez's grandson during their investigation. His grandson admitted that he saw Jimenez shoot Richards once that morning. The grandson said he saw Jimenez unload his revolver and set the ammunition and the revolver on the table of his home after the shooting.
13 Investigates spoke with Richards after Friday's plea hearing. He expressed immense anger that the deal was accepted by the 10th Judicial District Attorney's Office.
"It's hard to accept that the man that shot you is not going to jail," Richards said. "He tried to take 23-27 years away from my life. He served less than one hour per year in jail."
Richards alluded to the fact that Jimenez bonded out of jail after being charged before Richards was out of the hospital. Jimenez posted his $100,000 bond on the same day he was charged, March 1, 2021.
"It's a hard pill to swallow. The only difference between this case being attempted murder and murder is two centimeters," Rogers said.
Rogers told 13 Investigates the bullet was two centimeters away from hitting his heart. He has endured many physical and mental health complications since the incident.
"If you are older, you can go shoot somebody and you aren't going to jail. It sets that precedence," Richards said. "It blows all my faith in the court system."
During Friday's hearing, the district attorney's office said the plea deal was accepted because they felt the case was overcharged from the beginning. The attorney said it would have been difficult, if not impossible, to get a conviction during trial on the attempted 1st-degree murder charge.
The attorney said there were self-defense concerns at play. It's a claim that Richards vehemently denies. In addition to that, the attorney said it would be difficult to prove pre-mediation because Jimenez only fired one shot at Richards and then walked away.
The attorney alluded to the fact that placing Richards on the stand during a trial and having him go through a cross-examination would not help the prosecution's case.
If Jimenez violates the conditions of his 10-year probation sentence, and revocation of probation is ordered, Jimenez will be sentenced to 12 years in the Department of Corrections.
District Attorney’s make decisions about what cases should or should not go to trial based on a variety of circumstances including the facts viewed both from the victim’s perspective and what may be presented at trial from the defense. In this case we had substantial evidence that the victim aggressively approached my client in a highly agitated frightening manner. In our claim of self defense, we would have argued that based on the victims’ actions it was reasonable for the defendant to take defensive action including the use of a firearm. This would have been supported by the various videos of this matter before and after the assault and the victim’s normal demeanor. In this system everyone makes judgment calls based on all available facts, and plea agreement are reached based on these facts. That is what happened in this matter.Joseph Koncilja- Defense Attorney for Gilbert Jimenez
The prosecution said those 12 years would likely mean life in prison sentence for Jimenez. Both sides will be back in court on January 6, 2023, after the pre-sentence investigation is completed.