Amaya found not guilty in El Jebel double homicide |

Amaya found not guilty in El Jebel double homicide

Scott Condon
The Aspen Times
Defense attorneys Thea Reiff and Reed Owens stand with their client Williams Amaya as the jury returns with its verdict.
Randy Wyrick|Vail Daily |

EAGLE — A jury Friday found Williams Anderson Amaya not guilty of all five counts he faced for the slaying of his aunt and uncle in El Jebel in July 2014.

The 12-member jury deliberated 12 hours — eight hours on Thursday and four hours Friday — before reaching the verdict.

They found Amaya not guilty of two counts of first-degree murder for the killings of Eliseo and Mayra Lopez; two counts of first-degree attempted murder for shooting at the beds of the Lopez’s two teen-aged boys; and one count of tampering with evidence.

Amaya acknowledged he fatally shot his aunt and uncle, but he pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity.

Amaya, 35, isn’t a free man. He will be held by the Colorado Department of Human Services “until such time as he is deemed eligible for release,” said Eagle County District Judge Paul Dunkelman. The judge ordered that Amaya be transported as soon as possible to the Colorado Mental Health Institute in Pueblo, where officials will determine where he is treated.

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The key witness in the case was Dr. John Hearn, a forensic psychiatrist who is among the mental health experts contracted by the state government to undertake evaluations at the state mental hospital in Pueblo.

“He was legally insane at the time of the crimes,” Hearn said while testifying earlier this week.

Mayra Lopez’s mother, present in the courtroom throughout the trial, was distraught after the verdict was read. She was sobbing as she departed.

The case cannot be appealed by the 5th Judicial District Attorney’s Office because that would constitute double jeopardy, according to Chief Deputy District Attorney Joe Kirwan.

“It’s the end of the road from the prosecution side,” he said.

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