The jury in the first-degree murder trial of Kandin Eric Wilson has reached a verdict.
Wilson, 29, is the alleged neo-Nazi recruit accused of killing Susana Pelayo-Perez, a 35-year-old Colorado Springs restaurant manager. The jury has been deliberating the case for three full days.
One of the alternate jurors just arrived to hear the news. I’m in the courtroom where we’re awaiting the arrival of the victim’s relatives. Stay tuned to gazette.com for the outcome.
the 10-woman, 2-man jury will decide if Wilson was the gunman who shot and fatally wounded Susana Pelayo-Perez, 35, in the parking lot of the Shannon Glen apartments at 260 N. Murray Blvd around 1 a.m. on Sept. 27.
Perez-Pelayo had been sitting as a passenger in a white Chevrolet Yukon driven by Hermemegildo Castellon, a childhood friend with whom she had been having an affair.
Castellon testified that a red car pulled up along side his vehicle.
“They have no idea who’s in that car,” Deputy District Attorney Nathan Whitney told the jury during closing arguments Friday. “Mr. Castellon looks over and sees a man he’s never seen before.”
The man in the passenger seat of the red car asked for directions and then he pulled out a handgun, demanding money. Castellon said he hit the gas pedal and as his SUV sped forward onto Murray, one bullet shattered a rear passenger window, hitting hit Pelayo-Perez. He drove her to Memorial Hospital, where she died a short time later.
Prosecutors reminded the jurors that two eyewitnesses – Castellon and the driver of the red car, Kyle Gray – identified Wilson as the man who fired a single hollow-point .40 caliber slug that killed Pelayo-Perez, the manager of a La Casita restaurant.
Gray testified that he was driving his girlfriend’s red Ford Escape that night when Wilson directed him to the parking lot and the white SUV saying, “Let’s go get it.”
Prosecutors also showed jurors a picture of Wilson and Gray arm in arm with several members of the American Nazi Party. Gray testified that Wilson had agreed to become a “prospect:” with the party, which he described as a white prison gang.
“This picture speaks volumes,” Whitney said.
But Wilson’s attorney Philip Dubois challenged Gray’s credibility, noting that in exchange for his testimony, Gray will be sentenced to between 20 to 34 years in prison for his role in the shooting.
Dubois argued that police conducted a wide open investigation in the aftermath of the murder until they interviewed Gray in the El Paso County Jail, where he was serving time for a restraining order violation.
“After that, minds were closed,” Dubois said.
Dubois said Gray, an admitted “soldier” within the ANP, lived by a set of rules.
“A very important rule is: don’t give up one of your members.” Dubois said.
As a “prospect”, Wilson was more expendable than a full-fledged ANP, the defense lawyer reasoned.
Dubois also challenged Castellon’s ability to pick Wilson out of a set of six mug shots, noting that Castellon had admitting having about 10 beers on the night leading up to the shooting.
Dubois also noted Wilson had an alibi: he had been at home with his aunt and uncle when the shooting occurred.
Prosecutors countered with cell phone records of the signals bouncing off towers that showed he was not at his relatives’ Colorado Springs home at the time of the murder.
Wilson would face a mandatory life sentence without parole if found guilty of first-degree murder. He could also get additional time if Judge David L. Shakes finds him guilty of being a habitual criminal because of prior felony convictions of theft, trespass and giving false information to a pawnbroker.