A week in court: murder, fire, sex and firearms

Last week, an arraignment hearing was scheduled in February for a Cortez woman facing second-degree murder charges.

In custody on a $250,000 cash-only bond, Valerie Espinoza, 38, was indicted by a county grand jury in October in connection with the stabbing death of 62-year-old Charles Chaves inside his South Madison Street home on Sept. 19. Reports show the victim was stabbed seven times in his torso with a butcher’s knife during a morning attack.

A 9 a.m. arraignment was set for Feb. 10, after a request by defense counsel for the court to review grand jury testimony to determine whether prosecutorial misconduct occurred.

If convicted of second-degree murder, she faces 8 to 24 years in prison.


This week, an arraignment hearing was continued until January for the alleged arsonist in the summer Family Dollar Store fire.

Free on a $25,000 bond, James Alexander, 20, of Cortez, was charged in September with three counts of arson in connection with the May 14 fire. A Colorado Bureau of Investigations probe determined that an accelerant was used in the fire.

Alexander reportedly worked as an assistant manager at the Family Dollar store for a week before the blaze.

The building sustained heavy damage. No injuries were reported.

A 1:30 p.m. dispositional hearing was scheduled for Alexander on Jan. 9.


This week, an arraignment hearing was scheduled in January for a convicted sex offender facing nine new felony charges of sexual assault on a child.

In custody on a $30,000 bond, Andrew Allmon, 54, of Cortez, was indicted by a county grand jury in August on the charges in connection to the alleged abuse of an 8-year-old girl. Reports show the charges stem from incidents that occurred over a two-week period in June at the defendant’s North State Street residence.

A 10:30 a.m. arraignment was set for Jan. 9 after a request from defense counsel for additional time to review the grand jury testimony.

Allmon was convicted in 2008 of false imprisonment and sexual assault of a minor in New Mexico.


A sentencing hearing was scheduled in January after a felon pleaded guilty to possessing a firearm.

Convicted in 2012 of felony menacing for use of force with a deadly weapon, John Finocchiaro, 30, of Cortez, could receive a one- to three-year prison sentence, a $100,000 fine and two years of parole at a 2:30 p.m. hearing on Jan. 9.

The defendant requested an immediate sentencing on Tuesday, Dec. 17, but Finocchiaro changed his mind upon the advice of a public defender.

Records reveal the firearm was a small silver handgun. Finocchiaro, known as Fetus, was released from prison in August on the menacing conviction and was arrested a month later for violating his parole.