The Piercing Crack of Domestic Violence
Leadville Shooting Ends in Murder Charge
By Kathy Bedell © Leadville Today
The crack of gunshot pierced a quiet winter afternoon in Leadville, Colorado on Tuesday, Jan. 12 at the Mount Massive Townhomes. Three short hours later a 35-year old Leadville woman was pronounced dead at the local hospital and a 32-year old Leadville man was in custody, charged with murder. It was another shot to the heart of America’s highest city, another victim of domestic violence, as families on both sides grieve, and begin to navigate the heartbreak.
According to a press release distributed to media outlets on Tuesday:
At approximately 1:20 PM today dispatch received a call indicating there had been a shooting at an apartment at Mt. Massive Townhomes, located at Mt. Massive Drive & 10th Street Extension.
After an extensive search of the units, a victim was located. The victim was taken to St. Vincent Hospital and later died at the hospital. The suspect surrendered and was placed into custody and taken to jail.
Colorado Bureau of Investigation (CBI) will be investigating the crime scene this evening. Warrants were obtained to search for evidence. Charges will be filed as the investigation proceeds.
Later, in an updated notice from Public Information Officer Betty Benson:
The suspect in the Jan. 12, 2021 shooting is Jesus Artica, of Leadville, CO. DOB 05/15/88. The victim of this shooting was Yolanda LaCome, also of Leadville. She died at St. Vincent Hospital at approximately 4 PM on Jan. 12, 2021 from a gunshot to the head. An autopsy will be performed in Arapahoe County.
CBI will complete this ongoing investigation. Multiple search warrants were issued and Jesus Artica has been charged with 1 charge of murder in the second degree at this time. He remains in jail awaiting his arraignment on Jan. 14, 2021 at 11:30.
Artica was scheduled to make his first appearance in Lake County Court today, January 14 for the official charges. It appears that the court case has been postponed until February 25, 2021. There was no formal announcement on what the delay was or if additional charges would be added to the case.
There was also some confusion with the online court system as many had logged on to find out information concerning another murder case that took the life of Leadville electrician Randy Flores last September 2020. That case was also postponed.
The one thing COVID-19 has changed for the courts is residents’ ability to view proceedings online through the Lake County Court’s portal. You may also sign up for notifications regarding certain cases. As stated on the state’s website: “As the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) outbreak in Colorado develops, the Judicial Department is continually working to balance legitimate public health considerations with the necessity to maintain fair and effective administration of justice for citizens and communities in our state.”
Vonnie’s Voice Can Still Be Heard
As the facts for Monday’s case continue to be pieced together, the subject of domestic violence comes to the surface once again for a community that has seen its share of families torn apart. For longtimers, the most noticeable story is that of Vonnie Flores, a Leadville kindergarten teacher gunned down in her own driveway in 2010 by a stalker. Her family’s pain would go on to create Vonnie’s Law in 2012 and Vonnie’s Voice, a non-profit committed to raising awareness about stalking and the laws and resources in place to help victims.
Unfortunately, in small towns like Leadville, the ripple of connectedness doesn’t go very far and it was announced on the Vonnie’s Voice Facebook Page that Monday’s victim was also related to the Flores family, as written:
January 13, 2021 – It is with great sadness to write today’s post. Another dear family member was killed last night due to an act of domestic violence. She was 35 years old. She will be greatly missed. Domestic violence and stalking go hand in hand. If you or some one you know needs help please reach out to someone, anyone. Talk to a local advocate, police officer or a family member or friend. You can call 800-799-7233 for help. Please do it before it is to late. Being controlled or accused of things by a partner is not ok. You can reach out to someone for help. Break the silence! Rip my sweet cousin I’m sorry you didn’t have that choice. Please say a prayer for her and her family and children. #vonniesvoice #vonnieslaw #breakthesilence #domesticviolenceawareness #educateyourself
Well said. RIP, Yoli. You will surely be missed!
Community Board for Law Enforcement Established
In light of Monday’s tragedy, it seems like a good time to check in with the Leadville/Lake County Law Enforcement Community (LLCLEC) Board. Readers may recall a post from last fall that solicited members for a newly established group whose mission was to “work to build trust, facilitate communication and create a healthy partnership between law enforcement and the community of Leadville/Lake County.”
Spearheaded by Leadvillite Max Cohen, Leadville Today checked in with him for an update on the board’s progress. Here’s what he provided.
The Board had its first meeting at the end of December 2020, with the next one scheduled for February. LT will relay the date, time and provide a Zoom link for that gathering when it is available. All meetings are recorded and open to the public to sit in on. The City of Leadville has the recordings available.
While the board is working on a more formal reporting and communication system for people to engage with concerning support, concerns, or issues surrounding local law enforcement. However, for now, according to Cohen, residents can call them into the city, send a letter to the city, send an e-mail to Cohen email@example.com and or send a Facebook message to Max Cohen.
“We are looking to add 1-3 people specifically from the Lantino communities in our county as well as someone to represent the bars/restaurants in town,” explained Cohen.
The LLCLEC Board members:
- Max Cohen
- Cristian Lunaleal
- Bud Elliott (senior community rep)
- Betty Benson
- Maya Mendoza (youth representative)
- Karla Alder
- Rebbecca Volt
- Mike Vaghner (Schools representative)
- Vanessa Langston
- Mayor Greg Labbe
- Sarah Dae
- Sarah Mudge or any County commissioner who’d like to join.
- Leadville Police Chief Saige Bertolas
- Lake County Sheriff Amy Reyes
According to Cohen, “Everyone including the Chief and Sheriff seemed opened and excited for this board to be successful in building trust between LEO’s and the community. We learned that even though some of the things that are submitted as issues, we don’t understand, we need to just accept them as legitimate and look for effective ways to solve the issue.”
For readers interested, here’s Max Cohen’s FULL REPORT from the December 2020 meeting.
New District Attorney Sworn In for Lake County
The following press release was distributed on Tuesday, Jan. 12 by Public Information Officer John Bryan on behalf of the 5th Judicial District of Colorado which includes Lake County and Leadville.
Heidi McCollum, of Eagle, was sworn in today as the first woman to hold the office of Elected District Attorney in Colorado’s 5th Judicial District (JD5). The Honorable Cynthia J. Jones, Clear Creek County Judge, presided over the ceremony. District Attorney (DA) McCollum, previous Assistant District Attorney for the District, takes the reigns for the outgoing district attorney, Bruce Brown. DA Brown served the JD5 for eight years.
DA McCollum grew up in Eagle, and has served as the Assistant District Attorney (ADA) since 2013. She received her B.A. in Political Science from (now) Colorado Mesa University in 1992, her Juris Doctor (J.D.) from Chapman Law School in Orange, Calif.
In 1998, and began interning at the Eagle County District Attorney’s Office in 1999. From 2000-2006, she was in private practice; then, was a business owner and coach from 2007- 2010; and, was again in private practice from 2010-2013. During her tenure, she has prosecuted misdemeanors, traffic offenses and high-profile cases, including a recent first degree murder charge resulting in a life sentence for the defendant.
“I will work very hard to ensure the public is protected, that victims’ rights are protected, and that everyone accused of a crime has a fair opportunity and their day in court,” she said.
JD5 Staff Changes
Joe Kirwan, who has served as a Deputy District Attorney and Chief Deputy DA since 2013, will become the Assistant District Attorney. Those duties will include focusing on complex cases throughout the district and working with all attorney staff on court and trial preparation and presentation.
Kirwan was born in Ohio, received his undergraduate and law degrees from the University of Louisville, (1976, 1978, respectively); and, became the Assistant Public Defender for Warren County, KY, from 1979-1982. He has served in various functions such as private practice, as an assistant County attorney, and was admitted to the Colorado Bar in 2006. He lives in Eagle County with his wife, and has four children and two grand children.
“We’re lucky to have someone in this Judicial District with the depth of knowledge in criminal law that Mr. Kirwan brings to the table,” said DA McCollum. “He has worked as a defense attorney in both state and federal courts, and defended multiple federal death penalty cases. He has also worked as a state prosecutor in both Kentucky and Colorado, and is an individual that I continue to learn from every single day,” McCollum added. Kirwan (left) being sworn in as Chief Deputy DA for the 5th Judicial District, 2016. (courtesy photo)
Lisa Hunt, who was the Senior Deputy District Attorney, will become the Chief Deputy District Attorney. Her duties will be similar to a chief-of-staff, and include running the daily operations of all four district offices. She has been with the JD5 from 2004–2014, in private practice from 2015-2016, then back with the 5th Judicial District from 2016 until now. She received her undergraduate degree from the University of Colorado, and law degree from the University of Denver (J.D.) in 2004. She lives in Summit County, and enjoys snowshoeing, hiking, paddle boarding and many other outdoor activities.
“Lisa has been an invaluable asset to the office particularly in guiding younger attorneys in the difficulties of handling sex assault cases,” said DA McCollum. “Lisa is an experienced prosecutor with a keen ability to put the needs of victims above all else, and give voice to them in coping with some of the most difficult and agonizing events in their lives; all while seeking justice for them through the courts.”
Other Staff Changes
The Juvenile Diversion Program in Eagle County will be headed up by Dr. Nicola Erb, who is the former Assistant Chief of the Breckenridge Police Department. She has an extensive background in working with teens, particularly those impacted by drug use. She has worked as a law enforcement officer, investigator and consultant.
Amy Padden, a 25 year attorney, will be joining the JD5 Team as a felony prosecutor in the Eagle Office. Her impressive resume includes a clerkship with the late Judge Harold Greene on the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. She was an Associate Attorney at Wheeler Trigg O’Donnell, an Executive Assistant U.S. Attorney; and, a prosecutor in the 11th Judicial District of Colorado. Amy is also a former JD5 alum who was instrumental in working with DA Bruce Brown to develop the Adult Diversion Program—now offered in all four counties across the district.
“We are lucky to have such vast expertise and solid experience all four of these professionals bring with them,” said DA McCollum. “I’m very proud of the entire 5th Judicial District Attorney’s Office and am honored to serve the residents of our great communities,” she added.
“I want to thank Bruce Brown for his many years of leadership to this district, and to the thousands of people he has represented and helped throughout his career,” she said.
The 5th Judicial District is comprised of: Eagle, Summit, Lake and Clear Creek Counties.
Contact at P.O. Box 488 • Breckenridge, CO 80424 • (970) 453-2327 • Fax (970) 453-7524 • www.da5.us