Here are some excerpts from today’s opening arguments in the first-degree murder trial of Mark J. Walden, who is accused in the March 28 shooting death of Jonathan Frazier.
First, Deputy District Attorney Andrew Bryant presented the prosecution’s case
“This is a case about a crime of opportunity,” Bryant told the jury panel of five women and nine men.
He described Frazier as “a marijuana dealer.”
“That’s what he did. That’s how he made his money,” Bryant said. But that didn’t excuse the murder.
He described the reaction of two men who followed Frazier to the parking lot of the Apollo Village apartments with the intent of buying some marijuana.
“They make a u-turn and see Jonathan’s car parked,” Bryant said. “At that point they hear two thumps and look and see Jonathan struggling to get out of the car.”
“They realize Jonathan’s been shot and that something bad is happening and they need to get out of there.”
As they pull away, the two men see the passenger emerge from Frazier’s vehicle, holding a gun. They hear two more thumps.
Bryant said Walden took a $100 bill from the bloodied floor of the vehicle. He skips town and catches a bus in Denver the next day to Grand Rapids, Michigan where local police took him into custody on his arrival.
A Colorado Springs detective traveled to Grand Rapids where she interviewed Walden.
Bryant said at first, Walden feigned shock at the news that Frazier or “Shorty” was dead.
“That’s terrible,” the prosecutor quoted Walden as saying. “Of all the people I bought marijuana from, he was just a really cool guy….I can’t believe he was shot.”
About 90 minutes into the interview, after the detective confronts Walden, he admits being the shooter, Bryant said.
“It took about an hour and a half to come clean,” Bryant said. “He finally says: OK, it wasn’t supposed to go down that way.”
Then Walden describes taking out his gun to adjust it when Frazier shouts, “oh hell no.”
“So I shot him,” Walden said, according to the prosecutor. “I wasn’t thinking. I just shot him.”
Of the two gun shot wounds to Frazier’s chest, one was at close contact, an autopsy revealed.
“Mark Walden put that gun directly on his chest and pulled the trigger,” Bryant said.
Of the 9 mm gun later found in the vehicle, Bryant said it was unloaded.
“It’s a completely useless gun,” he said.
“Ladies and gentleman,” he concluded, “this is a robbery gone bad.”
Deputy Public Defender Dawn Williams presented the defense’s opening argument.
“This case is not about a crime of opportunity, it’s not about a robbery, it’s not about a drug deal gone bad,” she said.
“It’s about a young man who had relocated to Colorado…and who got caught up with the wrong crowd. And by the time he realizes this, it’s too late.”
On the night of the murder, she said Walden contacted Frazier about buying some marijuana.
Frazier said he was watching his son and suggested that they meet at his grandfather’s house where the two men meet, Williams said.
“Jonathan Frazier does something out of the norm. He offers Walden a ride back to the apartment,” she said.
Along the way, they meet up with two other men who want to buy a $10 bag of marijuana from Frazier.
He takes the $10, but rather than give over the marijuana, Frazier tells the two other men to follow him back to the Apollo Village apartments.
“You will hear that Mr. Walden begins to be nervous,” Williams said. “Jonathan Frazier acting out of character by giving Mr. Walden a ride heightened that nervousness,” she said.
Walden adjusts the revolver that stuck in his belt. At that point, Frazier “began reaching for this 9mm that Mr. Walden knows he has,” Williams said.
Walden takes out his gun and fires twice, Williams said.
“In terror, he flees the truck and down by the driver’s side tire,” she said. He picks up a $100 on the ground. He sees the other two men approach and flees.
“Mr. Walden is running,” she said. “His ears are ringing. His heart is pounding. His mind is racing.”
He runs south, leaving behind a wad of $1,000 on the console of Frazier’s vehicle as well as more than 9 ounces of marijuana in the vehicle and $1,170 in Frazier’s pockets.
“He runs south and he goes to the only place where he can be safe from Mr. Frazier and his friends, back home (to Grand Rapids).”
When the Colorado Springs detective arrives a few days later, Walden “doesn’t lie for 1 and ½ hours,” she said. It takes that long for the detective “to get to the heart of the matter,” she said.
“He breaks down and in an emotional moment, he tells the truth about everything,” she said.
“It wasn’t robbery. It wasn’t menancing,” she concludes. “And it certainly was not murder.”
Testimony in the trial resumes Wednesday. Fourth Judicial District Judge Deborah Grohs is presiding.