PUEBLO, CO – The Pueblo area saw a significant increase in homicides in 2021 from 2020 which were allegedly committed by well-known violent felons, leaving people scratching their heads as to why the criminals were free to commit homicide.
In 2020, the City of Pueblo had a reported 14 homicides throughout the year.
While that number itself is high enough, 2021 brought a 107 percent increase by rising to 29.
Busy 24 hours for Pueblo PD.
3 homicide suspects arrested in 3 separate homicide cases and then another homicide.
I believe 1 of these homicide suspects is currently on parole and 1 other might be convicted felon. Unsure about 3rd.#copolitics pic.twitter.com/KRx45dNrZu
— Mr T 2 (@GovtsTheProblem) October 8, 2021
The Pueblo Police Department spoke to KRDO about the number of homicides the area has seen and noted they had identified who they believe is responsible for 25 of the murders.
Pueblo Police Chief Chris Noeller spoke about the impact the murders are not only having on the surviving family members but also the rest of the community:
“It’s tragic for the family members of those people that have been murdered. It’s tragic for our community.”
The Pueblo Police Department revealed the criminal history backgrounds to KRDO of those they believe are responsible for the murders in their city. Most of the people that are suspected of committing the murders are seemingly repeat criminal offenders.
Kevin Woodard, 28, was arrested Monday in Arapahoe County in connection to a homicide out of Pueblo and a Monday morning shooting in Fremont County. 13 Investigates has learned Woodard was already wanted for drug and illegal firearm charges. @KRDONC13 at 5 and 6. pic.twitter.com/mAT2nfQx9N
— Dan Beedie KRDO (@BeedieonTV) May 4, 2021
The majority of those who are accused of murder, 13, are known gang members.
Two are previously deported illegal aliens that have come back into the country.
Nine of them have five or more felony arrests on their file.
Two of the suspects had 10 or more felony arrests while one of them had 15 or more. Three of the suspects were out on bond, parole, probation, or early release before the homicide. Five of them had no previous criminal history. Pueblo Police Sergeant Frank Ortega told KRDO:
“There are quite a few where if they were locked up, they would not be out killing people right now.”
Just spoke with @PuebloPolice1 Chief Chris Noeller about the start of 2022 legislative session today. Noeller tells me he wants corrective laws passed that address misdemeanor reform, bond reform and parole reform. More from my interview with him tonight at 5 on @KRDONC13 pic.twitter.com/vuXoRMjQxO
— Sean Rice KRDO (@SeanRiceTV) January 12, 2022
While the statement from Sergeant Ortega is obvious, what he is seemingly referring to is if the criminal justice system had kept those repeat felony offenders in jail, where common sense says they belong, they would have never had the opportunity to commit murder. Something that Chief Noeller alluded to:
“If they [alleged criminals] are going to bond out of jail, if they are going to be released out of prison and back into the streets of Pueblo there is only so much we can do.
We are repeatedly arresting violent offenders who are carrying weapons and are using those weapons in offenses and putting them in jail when they happen.
“Homicide is one of the hardest crimes to prevent because it is usually an emotionally based assault or decision that is made based on a relationship that the two people have.
However, people are being released repeated on bond after they have committed violent crimes, or not punishing people when they violate their parole, those kinds of things are putting them in a position where they can commit more violent crimes.”
The problem that Chief Noeller is highlighting is not central to the Pueblo area, but seemingly everywhere throughout the United States. Some judges have swung largely to the left in terms of criminal justice reform.
Those judges are typically allowing defendants to simply walk out of court after they have been arrested for a new offense or violated terms of their probation without any further consequences.
Some areas, like California and Chicago, are mandating offenders that are being released wear ankle monitors, however, leave it up to the suspects to make arrangements giving some the opportunity to walk away without one.
Critics of the latest trend of criminal justice reform point to this being the central issue were to why the violent crime rate is spiking throughout the nation, specifically in large metropolitan areas. Whether this is truly the cause of the increase in violent crime or not is up for debate.
One of those powers is the right to grant commutations of prison sentences. Brown decided to hand that decision-making process off to the state parole board.
This issue wound up in court after a group, Common Sense for Oregon, sued the governor for the attempted expansion of the parole board’s power.
If Brown’s effort had been allowed to pass, there would have been numerous juvenile convicts in front of those decision makers seeking early release.
Citing roughly 250 cases that would have been in front of the board, the group’s president Kevin Mannix said:
As reported by KOIN 6:
“A circuit court judge decided Brown could not transfer her constitutional authority to grant commutations and clemency to the parole board’s discretion. The move would have expanded the parole board’s authority which the judge said isn’t allowed.”
As part of that same lawsuit, the court upheld nearly 1,200 commutations.
Her office said of that decision:
“The Governor is pleased the court’s letter opinion has affirmed that her use of clemency powers was within her authority and upheld every single commutation granted to date, impacting almost 1,200 individuals.”
Despite this, Brown believes that her clemency authority can and should be used to “address systemic failures in our criminal justice system while we work to make lasting change.”
Apparently, she also believes that her authority should be exercised by a group of people who are not granted said authority by the state’s lawmakers.
One of the clemency requests Brown was looking at was that of Lynley Rayburn.
Armed with a rifle and high on meth, the couple forced the man inside.
Rost was tied up and brutally killed in his own home.
Court documents show that Rayburn did not pull the trigger. 26 at the time of the murder, Rayburn was sentenced to 25 years to life.
Rost’s daughters have been speaking out against the possibility of clemency from Brown.
“They walked in, and they stripped my dad naked. They tied his hands behind his back, they made sure they had his debit cards and various cards with his pin number. Then, they shot him in the head,” his daughter Kendra Pettit said.
Her sister, Sarah Olson, said:
“I was the one that found my dad how they left him.”
Speaking in regard to the clemency requests on Brown’s desk, Crime Victims United of Oregon president Steve Doell said:
“The reality is, in the state of Oregon, the criminals have become the victims, and the victims have become nothing more than collateral damage. It’s [clemency] usually for people who have been found to be innocent, or it’s people who’ve really turned their lives around.”
She evaluates clemency applications on a case-by-case basis and considers a variety of factors about the applicant’s history and case when making those decisions.’”
Her office says that she makes every attempt to receive input from the victim’s family before deciding, something Rost’s daughter say has not happened.
The sisters hoped that Brown would reach out and have a conversation with them.
“Every time this happens, it’s like a scab that just gets torn off every couple [of] years, and we have to relive the whole story again and resubmit these victim impact statements,” Pettit said.
At the time of the KOIN article regarding this case (January 22, 2022), Brown had not yet ruled.
At the time of this publication, there are no public records indicating that a decision has been reached regarding this specific case.
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