Donald Harris, who’s accused of murdering the man who was found dead in an RV parked near Golden, is now scheduled to enter a plea in the case Nov. 17.
Matthew Hire, 57, was found dead of a gunshot wound in his RV, which was parked at the Wooly Mammoth Park-N-Ride lot off Interstate 70. Investigators believe Hire was killed in late March, but his body wasn’t found until April 14, when a deputy found the door of his RV swinging open.
The 51-year-old Harris — an acquaintance of Hire’s — has been charged with first-degree murder, felony charge of possession of a weapon by a previous offender, and two sentence enhancers.
Harris, who’s in custody in Denver for a separate case, had a $2 million cash-only bond set in the murder case.
He appeared virtually from the Denver County jail for his Sept. 27 arraignment, which the judge continued to 9:30 a.m. Nov. 17 at the Jefferson County Courthouse.
During a Sept. 27 hearing, his defense attorneys said they needed more time to review all the physical evidence and “crime scenes” involved in the case. They also wanted to talk to prosecutors about reaching “a possible resolution,” although couldn’t guarantee anything for Judge Jason Carrithers.
“We do want to have those conversations, and I think it makes sense to have those conversations before getting well down the road,” one of Harris’ attorneys continued.
The prosecution didn’t object to continuing proceedings, and Carrithers pointed out this would only be a first continuance. Thus, he granted the defense’s request and told the parties to ensure Harris could appear virtually from the Denver County jail for his Nov. 17 arraignment.
History of the case
During Harris’ Aug. 11 preliminary hearing, Jeffco Sheriff’s Office investigators testified how, on the night of March 25, Hire’s RV was parked outside the Golden hotel Harris and his girlfriend were staying at. Harris and Hire were in the RV, and Harris reportedly didn’t come back to the hotel room that night and didn’t answer his phone.
The next morning, the RV was gone and Harris wouldn’t tell his girlfriend where he’d been.
Harris’ girlfriend later told investigators how, before Hire’s death, she’d overheard Harris and another friend talk about having access to Hire’s money and how they were going to “rip him off.”
According to JCSO, cell phone data showed both Harris and Hire’s phones were at the Wooly Mammoth lot between 3-3:30 p.m. March 26.
However, a few hours later, the Golden Police Department contacted Harris at the Golden Home Depot and arrested him on outstanding warrants in Denver.
JCSO investigators later examined the items Harris had when he was arrested and found a jacket with Hire’s blood on it. Harris also had Hire’s cell phone and keys to storage containers inside Hire’s RV.
Investigators also reviewed messages Harris sent and received while he was in jail, where he reportedly coordinated with friends to hide evidence, such as the RV itself and his girlfriend’s Jeep.
In searching the Jeep, JCSO found a .22-caliber revolver that’s believed to be the murder weapon. It had a single fired shot in it, which matched the bullet fragments found in Hire’s body. The revolver also had Hire and Harris’ DNA on it, investigators stated.
During the Aug. 11 preliminary hearing, Harris’ defense attorneys contested the first-degree murder charge, saying there was specifically little to no indication of any premeditation or physical evidence the homicide took place in the RV.
JCSO investigators confirmed there was no visible blood spatter, and all the tested surfaces were negative for blood. There also wasn’t anything to indicate a gun had been fired in the RV, or that the RV had been cleaned, the defense argued.
“There’s no evidence this homicide even happened in Jefferson County,” one of Harris’ attorneys said. “ … (The prosecution) hasn’t presented any evidence as to where the homicide might have occurred.”