Jury acquits Thrash of all charges

Robert Thrash

ALAMOSA — The trial of Robert Thrash, 31, the bondsman charged with second-degree murder and burglary for fatally shooting Phil Lucero in December of 2022, ended this week with Thrash being acquitted on all charges.

On the afternoon of Dec. 8, 2022, Thrash and his friend, 31-year-old David Heinstein, went to the residence of Veronica Lazoya where they had been told Lucero was staying. Lucero had failed to appear in court on drug charges, violating a bond of $1,000, posted by Thrash who was employed at Always Open Bail Bonds.

As came out in the trial, both Thrash and Heinstein were armed when they entered the residence, with Thrash going in first and Heinstein entering when he heard yelling inside. Upon entering, Heinstein already had his weapon pulled and a struggle ensued between Thrash- who was armed, Lucero – who was not, and Heinstein.

During the struggle, Lucero managed to gain control of Heinstein’s gun and shoot Heinstein in the arm. In response, Thrash fired his weapon at Lucero, striking him multiple times. Lucero later died of his injuries.

It was a complicated and rigorous case involving DNA samples, conflicting testimony and multiple witnesses, including Thrash, who took the stand in his own defense.

As also came out in the trial, the state of Colorado provides little guidance or regulation on what is considered to be legal, reasonable or appropriate conduct by bondsmen, many of whom, in the nature of their job, find themselves in volatile situations.

The trial lasted six days, including an entire day devoted to jury selection, with closing arguments made late in the afternoon on Monday. However, instead of excusing the jury with directions to come back the next morning to deliberate the case, District Judge Crista Newmyer-Olsen, who mentioned a full docket, excused the jury to go into deliberation, indicating that she would order dinner for the jurors and seeming to encourage them deliberating into the night.

However, after close to five full days of testimony with some days going past 5 p.m., the jury was unanimous in their acquittal of all charges filed against Thrash after three hours of deliberation.

When asked to comment on the outcome, Riley Selleck, defense counsel for Thrash, said, “This was justice for Robert Thrash. Robert saved the life of David Heinstein and probably his own. 

“During this trial, Robert was portrayed as being violent and out-of-control. The district attorney called him ‘Rambo.’ Nothing could be further from the truth. Robert is a calm and intelligent young man. On the day in question, he did the right and necessary thing.”

When asked for comment, 12th Judicial District Attorney Anne Kelly gave the following statement.

“We are obviously disappointed with the outcome. I appreciate the hard work of the Alamosa Police Department in enabling my office to bring this important case to the community. This case highlights the need for clarity from our legislators around regulation of the bondsman industry,” she said.