ABC 7News TheDenverChannel.com
March 26, 2008
HUGO, Colo. -- A former inmate who claims he was asked to kill a witness to a prison slaying received a plea deal in exchange for his testimony, defense attorneys alleged Wednesday.
Prosecutors called the charge "outrageous" during a heated exchange in the first-degree murder trial of David Bueno, 44.
Bueno and another inmate, 30-year-old Alejandro Perez, are accused in the 2004 stabbing death of inmate Jeffrey Heird at the Limon Correctional Facility.
Perez is still awaiting trial. Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty for both.
Doug Hudson, the former inmate, testified Wednesday that Bueno sent him a letter ordering him to kill another prisoner who Bueno thought had information about Heird's death.
Bueno's attorney, Derek Samuelson, said Hudson had recently walked away from a halfway house and was likely facing several years in prison until he told
investigators about the alleged letter, which has never been found.
"As you emerged as a witness in this case, that charge (of walking away) is dismissed," Samuelson said.
"Your honor, is this a miracle?" Samuelson added after prosecutor Dan May protested.
"There is no evidence that any deals have ever been given to this man," May said.
Hudson is one of the witnesses prosecutors are relying on to support their claim that Bueno threatened others to keep them from talking about Heird's death.
Hudson testified that Bueno wanted him to kill inmate William Wonnenberg.
Department of Corrections investigator Mark Finley testified that Wonnenberg told authorities Bueno ordered him to keep quiet about what he saw the night of the killing.
According to Finley, Wonnenberg said Bueno and Perez walked into Heird's cell during dinner time on March 28, 2004, when few inmates were around. Wonnenberg said he heard the sound of something banging on concrete, which investigators later concluded was someone hitting Heird's head against the floor.
Wonnenberg claims Bueno later told him, "You're an old con, I know you know something, and you need to keep your mouth shut," Finley testified.
Bueno's defense attorneys told jurors at the start of the trial that they would hear testimony from convicts with "self-serving" interests.
They said Wonnenberg, who is one of the prosecution's lead witnesses, has lied before and that he's known by other inmates as "Crooked."
Prosecutors say Heird was killed after gang members labeled him a snitch who failed to tell them a drug bust was coming.
Bueno's attorneys argue that a white supremacist gang that Heird belonged to had him killed. Defense attorneys said Heird learned of the impending bust from a female prison officer who "let him get too close" to her.