SAGUACHE COUNTY, Colo. (KRDO) -- 13 Investigates spoke with the man shot in October 2021 after his case was dismissed against his wishes.
Matthew Maka was shot in the groin area in October, 2021 in Saguache County. Joseph Taylor was arrested on attempted murder charges, but those charges were eventually dropped on June 10, 2022, by 12th Judicial District Attorney Alonzo Payne.
Taylor was accused of shooting Maka outside a Dollar General in Moffat on October 2, 2021. According to arrest documents obtained by 13 Investigates, Maka told police that Joseph tried to kill him.
According to court documents, Taylor is accused of saying the following to Maka:
The arrest affidavit says there is reason to believe that Matthew owed Joseph money and that the shooting was over a debt. A Glock 43 handgun with blood on it was found under the driver's seat of a vehicle where Taylor was sitting minutes before the shooting, arrest documents say.
"It was over 300 dollars, I'm not thinking I am going to get shot," Maka said.
Maka told 13 Investigates there was a struggle between Taylor and himself. That's when Taylor pulled a gun on him. Maka tried to wrestle the firearm away from him but was shot.
"He literally shot me right in front of the Dollar General and told me that I have to die," Maka said. "I was afraid that I might not make it, that I might bleed out."
For the next eight months, Maka became frustrated with multiple continuances being filed in court before the case was abruptly dropped on June 10, 2022.
The day before, 12th Judicial District Attorney Alonzo Payne filed a motion to dismiss the case, citing seven reasons why the case could not proceed.
Payne cites a lack of self-defense evidence, claims that Maka tried to kill Taylor, and Maka had firearm residue on his hand.
Arrest documents also say police observed Maka with "burn marks on his hand consistent with a muzzle blast." Maka said his hand got caught in the gun's chamber while struggling for the weapon. He says multiple witnesses say Taylor clearly shot him with intent to kill him.
"There are witnesses that I can pull that say Joe told them he shot me," Maka said. "They responded to that by saying we don't have enough evidence. The District Attorney claimed that I could have shot myself."
Maka's frustration boiled over when he was never informed that District Attorney Payne had the intention to drop the case. He says he walked into his scheduled court appearance on June 10 and was caught off guard.
"I told the District Attorney 'you are telling me I can go murder someone and if I have the money, I can walk," Maka said. "I said 'so what is stopping me from taking the law into my own hands?"
Maka says he went to County Judge Amanda Hopkins and pleaded with her to reopen the case, telling her his victim's rights had been violated. Judge Hopkins decided to reopen the case four days later on June 14, 2022.
"If I died, it would be his word against a dead body and I would not be here talking to you right now and this case would not even be a complaint," Maka said.
Maka filed a complaint with Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser's office with the claim that his victim's rights were violated.
Maka's complaint is not the first against District Attorney Payne. The Attorney General's office says they have received multiple complaints but could not disclose how many, or the contents of the complaints.
"The DA is supposed to represent me and be my attorney and looking for my best interest when he clearly is not doing anything of that," Maka said. "As the victim, I shouldn't be telling you what to do. It's your job to listen to the 911 call, it's your job to talk to my wife, it's your job to get my side of the story and the other guys."
On June 23, 2022, the Colorado Department of State announced a petition to recall Payne was found "sufficient as required by statute."
13 Investigates has reached out to DA Payne's office multiple times through emails and phone calls to discuss the specifics of this case and his decision to dismiss it. We have not heard back.
"I told him all of my objections and he still said no. I wanted to tell the judge that I don't want this man walking," Maka said.
Maka and Taylor will be back in court for a hearing on July 19, 2022.