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‘He’s going to get away with murder,’ San Luis Valley family voice concerns about plea deal

SAGUACHE COUNTY, Colo. (KRDO) -- A Southern Colorado family is deeply worried their loved one will not get justice after being stabbed to death.

On February 23, 2022, Brian Taylor was stabbed multiple times inside a Villa Grove home. Court documents obtained by 13 Investigates said Taylor had "several puncture wounds" on his back, neck, and head.

Dustin Ferguson

Officers at the scene reported seeing blood on his right palm, pinky, and ring finger.

Investigators later arrested Dustin Ferguson for first-degree murder.

Any eye witness on the scene said Ferguson and Taylor got into an argument before Ferguson stabbed Taylor. That same day, Ferguson was arrested by the Saguache County Sheriff's Office and was charged with the first-degree murder of Taylor.

However, nearly two months later, Ferguson was offered a plea deal by former 12th Judicial District Attorney Alonzo Payne. That plea deal significantly dropped the charges against Ferguson to attempted assault, a class four felony.

The plea deal waived Ferguson's right to a preliminary hearing. The paperwork was signed by Ferguson, his attorney John Hoag, and an attorney under Payne, 12th Judicial Deputy District Attorney Ricardo Rivera.

Via Saguache County Courts

Taylor's family says the District Attorney's Office's decision to offer a plea deal completely contradicts physical evidence and eyewitness testimony.

"It's been hell," family member Marci Estes said. "There's proof that he did it. We shouldn't even be going through this right now."

"I can't even fathom how he would get attempted assault out of someone being stabbed multiple times in the back of the head, in the back of the neck," family member Priscilla Brown said. "There were no defense wounds and there was an eyewitness."

Taylor's family told 13 Investigates that Brian's nine-year-old nephew Gabriel has taken his uncle's murder extremely hard. He is worried the man allegedly responsible will be released from jail.

Gabriel and Brian

"Five days before his birthday, Gabriel tried to commit suicide," Estes said. "He tried to jump off the 11th St. bridge in Pueblo."

Brown said the little boy wanted to talk to his Uncle Brian, his uncle who was gone too soon.

"He feels alone now because his favorite uncle, his best friend, the person he could confide in was snatched away from him," Brown said.

Taylor's family pointed to Ferguson's prior criminal record as a factor that should have played a part in his criminal proceedings. 13 Investigates learned that Dustin Ferguson has prior guilty pleas for burglary and assault in Fremont County in 2012 and 2013. He was also convicted of check forgery in Weld County in 2020.

"It's clear that this man has been committing crimes since he was 25 years old and has progressively gotten worse. How does this get dropped," Brown questioned.

Ferguson was scheduled for a plea hearing Tuesday. The Colorado Attorney General's Office, acting as interim 12th Judicial District Attorney, said they disagree with the plea offer of the prior administration.

However, they did not remove the plea offer. Instead, Ferguson now has seven days to either accept or decline the offer.

If accepted, Saguache County District Judge Amanda Hopkins will make a ruling on the plea offer. Judge Hopkins said her initial feeling was the deal was "alarming."

A prosecutor under the Colorado Attorney General's Office said former District Attorney Alonzo Payne did not do his "due diligence" with the offer, but they said they are "required to honor" the deal offered.

Judge Hopkins will rule on the plea deal on Tuesday, July 26.

Article Topic Follows: Investigations
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Sean Rice

Sean is reporter with the 13 Investigates team. Learn more about him here.

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