NEW: 1989 Mesa County cold case murder arrest update

By: Leigh Ashman Email
By: Leigh Ashman Email

Officials say the suspect, Rafael 'Shorty' Garcia Aguilar, 59, was arrested for the July 4, 1989 shooting death of Charles 'Chuck' Porter on Thursday, April 30, 2009 in Colima, Mexico.

Hilkey says Garcia-Aguilar won't be extradited to the U.S. for prosecution and that he's facing second degree murder charges.

District Attorney Pete Hautzinger says Garcia-Aguilar's arrest signals the beginning of the end of closing this case and will bring closure for the victim and his family.

Hilkey says it wasn't new DNA evidence or any other technological advance that brought about this arrest, but the hard work of current and previous investigators who kept looking into the case. District Attorney Pete Hautzinger gave credit to the case's current investigator, Lissah Norcross, who pushed him to take another look at the case.

Hilkey says the case is ultimately a domestic violence case and that on the night of the murder, Garica-Aguilar went to visit his children after an ugly divorce ended his marriage earlier in 1989. Garcia-Aguilar went to Porter's home located at 3680 F Road in Palisade and shot him at close range with a rifle. Hautzinger says the crime was pre-meditated.

Hautzinger says he would prefer for Garcia-Aguilar to be brought back to Mesa County to face justice, but through research and partnering with foreign prosecution sepcialists found that Colorado's death penalty makes it difficult for suspects to be brought back to the US from Mexico. He says cold case factor added another complication and that although he was willing to take the death penalty off the table as a possible sought-after sentence, he ultimately found the foreign prosecution to be the best option. Hautzinger also says his freedom of the last 20 years is regrettable.

Hautzinger says the feelings of the victim's family also played a role in making that decision. He says they would rather Garcia-Aguilar not be returned to the US as the family is 'terrified of him' and didn't want to testify in front of a live jury as it was too painful.

Binders filled with evidence were delivered to Mexican authorities in February of 2008 by Norcross and Hilkey. Hilkey praised the Mexican officals they worked with on the case.

Investigators also worked with Coordinator of the Office of the Attorney General's Foreign Prosecution Unit LuzMaria Shearer who has worked on similar cases in Colorado. It was Shearer who told Hautzinger it's likely Garcia-Aguilar will be convicted in Mexico of the murder. Hautzinger says the Mexican prison where he'll likely spend the rest of his life if vastly different than the Colorado prison he would have served his sentence at if he'd been returned to the US for prosecution.

Financially, Hautzinger says that though many hours were spent on the case by Sheriff's Office investigators and his office, but the most expensive element in this case was been getting large binders filled with evidence and paperwork translated into Spanish. To read Garcia-Aguilar's warrant, click the link below.

11News will have an in-depth look at this story tonight at 5:30 p.m.


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