Suspect pleads not guilty

Jury trial scheduled for September

Keywords: Cortez, Trials, Homicide,

Charged with murder and attempted murder, a Cortez teen pleaded not guilty at an arraignment hearing on Tuesday.

Jeroen Begay, 19, entered the plea on Tuesday, April 22, before Chief District Court Judge Doug Walker. Public defenders again requested the arraignment be continued.

“It’s time to enter a plea,” said Walker.

District Attorney Will Furse predicted the jury trial, scheduled to start Sept. 15, would last up to three weeks.

Indicted for murder by a Montezuma County grand jury, Begay allegedly shot and killed 21-year-old Natalie Hatch inside her Cedar Terrace Apartment home on Sept. 19. The suspect also faces two counts of attempted first-degree murder. Police say that after shooting Hatch, a masked Begay entered the residence and fired four rounds with a 12-gauge shotgun. An 18-year-old victim was also injured, but survived.

Begay is being held at the Montezuma County Detention Center without bail. Public defender Kenneth Pace was granted a bond hearing on May 21. Furse indicated that he would request a $1 million bond.

Begay’s arraignment was scheduled for last month, and Walker reluctantly agreed to continue the proceeding to allow defense attorneys an opportunity to review evidence held then by the Colorado Bureau of Investigations.

According to court officials, more than 45 items of evidence were sent to state investigators for evaluation, including the firearm used in the alleged homicide.

According to initial police reports, victims and others had been drinking with the suspect throughout the day in question. Witnesses told police the shooting occurred about 10:15 p.m. after a physical confrontation that arose approximately a half-hour earlier. Police said Begay fled the scene to a relative’s home in Arizona following the shooting.