Courier staff writer
ALAMOSA — A Colorado Springs man who now claims he is not guilty of the crimes he pleaded guilty to earlier this year is getting a new lawyer.
Twelfth Judicial District Judge Pattie Swift on Thursday appointed defense attorney Barbara Zollars to represent Nazzreth Michael Deluna, after the 26-year-old man alleged that the public defender’s office failed to provide him with adequate legal representation.
Deluna, who is a former resident of Alamosa, pleaded guilty in February to felony menacing and misdemeanor third-degree assault.
By entering the plea, he sidestepped a far more serious felony charge of second-degree assault, and he also avoided the likelihood of going to jail or prison.
At the time, his attorney told the court that the prosecution would have been able to prove that Deluna and co-defendant Raymond Garcia engaged in a June 24, 2012 attack on two men. (Garcia pleaded guilty to a related charge earlier this year, and he previously said that Deluna was at the scene of the assault.)
Despite the earlier developments in court, Deluna backed out of the deal when he learned that Garcia’s victim refused to cooperate with prosecutors.
Deputy District Attorney Mark Loy told the court in June that there is no way his office can get a felony conviction out of Deluna’s case, as long as victim Timo Martinez remains silent.
Martinez previously told police that he “ain’t no snitch,” and he remains unwilling to sign a waiver that would enable Loy’s office to access his medical records.
Although an attending physician signed off on serious bodily injury reports for Martinez and the second man, Loy said his office cannot prove that serious bodily injury occurred, given Martinez’s attitude.
Deputy Public Defender Marcie Goldstein told the court in June that she believes Martinez’s unwillingness to testify against Deluna negates her client’s guilt in this case.
Unlike Martinez, however, Deluna’s alleged victim has consistently offered to help out, and he remains deeply concerned about who will be held liable for the costs of the medical care he’s received to date.
According to a victim impact statement, the man is seeking $10,999.92 in reimbursement. But that amount does not include the costs he might incur for a complete nasal reconstruction and additional dental repairs, the statement reported.
The man has already undergone extensive dental work to fix the damage that Deluna allegedly caused. Yet he’s had trouble paying the invoices that followed, and he questions why he should be left to foot the bill for any more expenses.
“I don’t think that it is one bit fair that I still have to pay out of MY pocket for one of my teeth to get fixed and to pay for a FULL nose reconstruction out of my pocket, when it should be Nazzreth Deluna responsible for his actions,” he said in a letter to the court.
Fair or not, debt collection agencies continue to hound the man for past-due payments, according to paperwork on file in district court.
“The medical bills don’t stop coming,” he wrote. “Collections is (sic) constantly calling. (It’s) draining.”
But those collection agents might be the least of his worries.
The man said that he and his family remain terrified that Deluna or other alleged members of the Juaritos gang might retaliate against them — especially since the plea deal fell through.
In his letter to the court, the man said that neither he nor his wife are troublemakers.
According to court records, the man intervened last June when two men jumped out of a car in the 900 block of Ninth Street and began to attack Martinez.
At first, the man simply tried to stop the fight. Yet his wife reported that he was quickly drawn into it, as she, their five-year-old son and an eight-year-old godchild stood by helplessly.
As the alleged attack continued, the man sustained severe injuries to his face. When his wife tried to step in, someone allegedly grabbed her by the back of the neck, she later told police.
After the incident, the man said that he and his family avoided any trips in to Alamosa at all costs.
Even so, his wife would stay up all night long, and any time she heard the slightest of noises, she would wake him up, he said. When their son asked if he could play outside, she wouldn’t let him, out of fear that someone was watching them, the man said.
“This went on for months,” he wrote.
“It was emotionally draining when (there’s) nothing you can do to make sure your family is safe,” he said. “Knowing that someone that did the damage to you physically … (was) out to kill it takes a toll on your life and on your families (sic) lives emotionally, physically and mentally. We have never had to live in fear like this to the point where we sleep with a firearm in the night stand next to our bed at night.”