Incompetent crime saga comes to a close, Arnaldo Lucero-Almanza, sentenced to 20 years
EAGLE — Roxana Venzor refused to become a victim when a masked man tried to rob her at gunpoint, then beat her with an illegal handgun when she refused.
Jesus Manuel Miranda tried to rob two businesses within a half hour on Sept. 4, 2015. He got no money from either. Miranda shot Alan Gonzalez three times, smacked Venzor in the head with an illegal handgun, stole two cell phones from a customer and ran.
The final pages were recently turned on the crime spree as the last of the three-member gang was hammered with a 20-year prison sentence.
Arnaldo Lucero-Almanza, 22, drove Miranda and his teenaged female accomplice when they tried to rob Dinero Rapido in Eagle, then to Venzor’s Tienda Montes in Gypsum, which they tried to rob a half hour later.
Mother of two
Venzor spoke publicly for the first time at Lucero-Almanza’s sentencing hearing, describing the trauma she suffered at the hands of Miranda, Lucero-Almanza and the 17-year old girl who was with them.
Venzor told District Court Judge Paul Dunkelman that dozens of people walk into her store every day, and each time she wonders if one will try to rob her at gunpoint. When she goes out at night she wonders if someone will aim a gun at her.
“He didn’t care,” she said of Lucero-Almanza.
Venzor is the mother of two children, a 10-year old son and a 20-year old daughter attending college. She called her children her “foundation as a person.”
Lucero-Almanza was actually in her store several times as a customer, once asking to borrow $300, Venzor said. She loaned him the money, not expecting to get it back, she said.
Lucero-Almanza said his father abandoned him when he was 1-year-old, and that he suffered from a methamphetamine addiction.
“I know I deserve punishment. I want to change. I want to be with my son. I do not want him to be without a father, as I was,” Lucero-Almanza said.
During the hour-long hearing, Lucero-Almanza’s 1-year old son toddled around the courtroom gallery and the hall outside.
What’s good and bad
Venzor said she had to overcome a tough childhood, and lashed out at Lucero-Almanza for trying to claim victimhood.
“I’m not going to use cheap psychology for what might have caused him to do this,” Venzor said. “I was abandoned at 4 years old by my father.”
“You know what’s good and what’s bad,” she said. “He can say he was a victim, but no. That’s not the case, and this was not a mistake.”
Two failed robberies in 30 minutes
Jim Fahrenholtz, Lucero-Almanza’s attorney, said his client showed up late for the robberies because he was “having second and third thoughts,” and that he has no previous criminal record.
“All I wanted was the narcotics,” Lucero-Almanza said.
Miranda told him about the robberies he was planning, and wanted Lucero-Almanza to drive him and his teenaged accomplice.
“I wanted to say no, but he knew my sickness,” Lucero-Almanza said. “He told me everything will be fine. I’m regretful for everything I did.”
A half hour after they failed to steal anything from Dinero Rapido in Eagle, Lucero-Almanza drove Miranda and the teen girl to Gypsum, where they walked into Tienda Montes with their faces concealed. They closed the door, pointed an illegal 9 mm handgun at Venzor and demanded money.
“I don’t want to give you anything,” Venzor told Miranda.
And she didn’t, even though Miranda hit her in the face with his gun. For the second time in a half hour, Miranda had committed armed robbery and came away empty.
About that time Alan Gonzalez was on his way into the store to cash his paycheck, as he sometimes does on paydays. Gonzalez looked through the window and saw the robbery in progress.
Miranda backed out the door, pointed the gun at Gonzalez, told him to back up and ordered him not to call the police.
Gonzalez watched Miranda move away slowly, then pounced. Gonzalez slapped Miranda into a headlock. As the two struggled for the gun, Miranda fired his handgun five times. Gonzalez was hit three times at point-blank range, once in the chest. Gonzalez was hospitalized, and has since recovered.
Miranda and the girl ran.
Lucero-Almanza said he yelled at Miranda and the girl to stop, but they kept running.
“I tried to stop him, but it was too late,” Lucero-Almanza said. “When I heard the shots I ran to help the victim.”
“I am thankful that the victim is OK,” he said.
Lucero-Almanza stuck around to help Gonzalez until the ambulance and police arrived. Then he jumped behind the wheel of his Cadillac Escalade and ran.
“Instead of taking off, which he easily could have, he stayed to help Mr. Gonzalez,” Fahrenholtz said.
Miranda and the girl were caught quickly; the girl in Gypsum and Miranda in Garfield County following a high-speed chase. Miranda was sentenced to 42 years in state prison. The girl will serve six years.
“I can point him out”
Gonzalez was in the courtroom when Miranda’s teenaged accomplice was sentenced, and heard her speak of the driver and lookout. Gonzalez told detectives, “I know the guy she’s talking about. I know who that is and I can point him out to you.”
“It’s ironic that if Mr. Gonzalez had died, I don’t think it would have been possible to arrest or even identify Mr. Lucero-Almanza,” said Assistant District Attorney Heidi McCollum said.
“This was not a mistake. You were part of planning an armed robbery,” Judge Dunkelman told Lucero-Almanza. “When someone brings a gun to a robbery, someone’s going to get shot and that’s exactly what happened.”
“Yes, you stayed and helped Mr. Gonzalez, but you fled immediately afterward. This type of conduct demands a significant prison sentence,” Dunkelman said in handing down his 20-year sentence.
Because Lucero-Almanza was involved in a crime of violence, he’ll have to serve 75 percent of those 20 years before he is eligible for parole. Because he’s in the U.S. illegally, he’ll be deported as soon as he’s released.
Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 and firstname.lastname@example.org.
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