Jury begins deliberation in Fief murder trial
September 26, 2013
Craig — Jury deliberations in the Leroy Fief first-degree murder trial began Thursday. The jury now will weigh the evidence to determine whether Fief, 49, of Craig, is guilty of the stabbing death of Shane Arredondo in December 2012.
The jury began deliberating at 3 p.m., and after three hours without producing a verdict, the jury members were sent home for the night. They will return to the courthouse Friday morning.
Chief Deputy District Attorney Matthew Tjosvold opened the prosecution's closing statements by outlining the events leading up to Arredondo's death Dec. 9, 2012, saying that Fief should be convicted of first-degree murder because he had demonstrated deliberation and intention in killing Arredondo.
During the trial, the prosecution presented evidence that Fief intended to kill Arredondo and carried out his plan with a 7-inch butcher knife. The prosecution called several witnesses to the stand to paint that narrative.
According to court testimony, Fief suspected his wife of infidelity and dealt with his suspicions by monitoring his wife's Facebook page and her cellphone.
On Dec. 6, 2012, Fief discovered what he thought was a suspicious voicemail on his wife's cellphone, and she assured him she was not having an affair, according to testimony. Two days later on Dec. 8, 2012, Fief tried multiple times to contact his wife before leaving work to find her.
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He stopped by his house, grabbed a butcher knife and took it with him to the Elk Head Apartments near Mathers’ Bar, according to testimony.
"He grabs the knife, ladies and gentlemen, because he had a feeling she's (fooling) around," Tjosvold said. "When you have a kitchen knife, what does that specifically say about what you're doing?"
When Fief saw his wife and Arredondo come out of the Elk Head Apartments, Fief attacked Arredondo and stabbed him four to five times, testimony revealed.
The prosecution also showed the court Fief's confession tape, on which Fief explained his motivation and his feelings at the moment of the attack, saying he "wanted him f—— dead," talking about Arredondo.
Tjosvold told the jury that Fief's actions showed he knew what he was doing by putting himself in a provoking situation.
"In reality, he's created this mess for himself," Tjosvold said.
Defense attorney Jeremy Snow countered in his closing statement that the prosecution hadn't lived up to its responsibility to prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that Fief intentionally and deliberately had killed Arredondo.
Snow urged the jury to come to a simple conclusion with the evidence provided and advised them to pay attention to holes in the case.
"Law enforcement jumped to conclusions about what Mr. Fief was doing. The facts will show what they thought was happening, what they assumed was happening, wasn't actually happening," Snow said.
He then reminded the jury that they were required to consider Fief innocent until proven guilty.
"Right now, you are to presume Mr. Fief is innocent," Snow said. "The only thing that can overcome that presumption is proof. There's no doubt that Mr. Arredondo died, and that's a horrible, horrible thing. There's no doubt that Mr. Fief caused the death of Mr. Arredondo. But did he do it with deliberation and intent?
"There's holes in this entire case because law enforcement jumped to assumptions," Snow said.
Moffat County District Attorney Brett Barkey spoke after Snow to present the second portion of the prosecution's closing arguments.
"There's no illusions that Mr. Fief killed Mr. Arredondo in an extremely violent way," Barkey said.
It would have taken Fief approximately 34 paces to get from his car to where Arredondo was standing, Barkey said. To walk that distance would take about 20 seconds, Barkey said.
The prosecutor ended his closing statement by putting 20 seconds on a clock and walking the length of the courtroom back and forth.
"Every step was a chance to turn around," Barkey said.
The jury will return to the Moffat County Courthouse on Friday morning to continue deliberations.
Erin Fenner can be reached at 970-875-1794 or efenner@CraigDailyPress.com.