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Luke Menges, 26, of Alamosa, is free on bond following a plea bargain that was made last week. Menges is facing charges from two separate cases in Alamosa District Court. In a case from 2010, the district attorney has agreed to drop all four conspiracy charges for Menges’ guilty plea to an added class five felony charge. Bond in the 2010 case was reduced to $5,000. In a case from 2011 where Menges was charged with “riot in a detention center”, Menges agreed to plead guilty to the added count of third degree assault, and the felony count was dropped. Bond in that case was set at $1,000. A pre-sentence investigation report has been ordered in both cases. Sentencing has been scheduled for 8:30am on May 9th. Menges, who has been held in the Alamosa County Detention Center since his arrest in December of 2010, made bond and was released. In the 2010 case, Menges was found not guilty by a jury on charges of first degree kidnapping, aggravated robbery and menacing. A verdict was not returned on the conspiracy charges. A trial had been set for May 30th to resolve the remaining charges.
Trinidad State Junior College President Felix Lopez announced last week that he will resign his position at the end of the school year and will leave the college in mid-June. Lopez said he will present TSJC’s budget to the state board for community colleges in June before he leaves. In his letter announcing his resignation, Lopez said that he was grateful for the years he has been involved with TSJC, initially as an international student and most recently as president. He has served as president over the Trinidad and Alamosa campuses since 2009. Lopez has taken a job with Pikes Peak Community College in Colorado Springs where he will serve as vice president of student success, overseeing that college’s efforts to improve student goal achievement, retention, graduation and transfer measures, minority student success and other areas of student intervention and support. Specifically, Lopez will lead the retention office, learning assistance centers, oasis, trio, support of the new student early alert system, and institutional research.
The southbound lanes of Interstate 25 were closed early Friday morning after a car caught fire near Colorado City. According to the Colorado State Patrol, witnesses saw a man standing by the vehicle, which was destroyed, but left before officers arrived on scene. Authorities don’t know what kind of vehicle it was other than that it had a Mexican license plate. A VIN number could not be obtained due to the condition of the vehicle, nor was any usable evidence discovered inside the vehicle. The car was across both southbound lanes of traffic when it caught fire. No one was injured in the incident which occurred about 3:24am Friday. The highway was reopened at 5:25am.
Vernon Braun, 71, of Monte Vista, the father of Victor Braun who faced perjury charges for his statements in the Danice Day case, died last Tuesday. There were no suspicious circumstances surrounding Braun’s death, according to Rio Grande County Sheriff Brian Norton, however, because Braun died alone, an autopsy was scheduled to be performed. Prosecutors charged Vernon Braun last year with six counts of perjury for his statements to investigators that he had not helped dispose of the body of Danice Day, who was 19 when she disappeared in 2002. Braun also said he had no knowledge of how her body had been disposed. Prosecutors alleged that Braun knew those statements were false, along with four others he had made. Braun pleaded not guilty to those charges last October 17th, but a trial date had not yet been set. In December of 2009, Victor Braun was sentenced to 12 years in prison for reckless manslaughter in connection with day’s death. Day’s remains were found in June of 2009 in a barrel at the bottom of Lyman Lake, about 170 miles northeast of Phoenix.
A hiker from Archuleta County was found Friday afternoon by search and rescue crews after he had been reported missing in the Sangre De Cristo Mountains. The identity of the hiker was not released. Search crews were made up of personnel from both Archuleta and Saguache counties. The hiker was reported missing early Friday morning and the search focused on the area of the Sangres near Challenger Point, a 14,294-foot peak that is popular with hikers and climbers. Searchers were assisted by a helicopter out of Pueblo. It is not known if the hiker received any injuries or if he was transported to a hospital for treatment.