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Carbondale murder trial touches on defendant’s confession, Valentine’s Day roses

Colorado Bureau of Investigation

  The jury trial for a El Salvadoran man continues in Glenwood Springs Thursday and likely through much of next week.

Carbondale resident Arturo Navarrete-Portillo is charged with first degree murder in the killing of his wife Maria Carminda Portillo-Amaya. She died February 16, 2015. Navarrete-Portillo also faces a child abuse charge because his son was present at Portillo-Amaya’s death.

During the trial on Wednesday, the defendant’s niece testified. She was also a good friend of

Portillo-Amaya and described visiting the couple hours before the crime. The niece said her uncle didn’t seem very drunk, while Portillo-Amaya was very intoxicated and upset about not receiving roses for Valentine’s Day.

Also on Wednesday, prosecutors played a recording of a police interview with the defendant, made in the days after the crime, when Navarrete-Portillo was at St. Mary’s Hospital in Grand Junction. The defendant told law enforcement that he cut his wife with a machete because he was mad at her, but didn’t remember why he was angry.

Navarrete-Portillo tried to commit suicide in the hours after he killed his wife by getting into a car crash. The defendant cried in the courtroom on Wednesday while listening to the recording of his description about what happened.

Navarrete-Portillo and Portillo-Amaya were both originally from El Salvador and met in the U.S. The trial is scheduled to last several more days.

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