Suspect in Arvada PD Officer Vakoff murder appears in court for advisement hearing

Preliminary hearing date set, sealed warrants and affidavits could become unsealed

Rylee Dunn
rdunn@coloradocommunitymedia.com
Posted 9/21/22

Sonny Almanza, the suspect in Arvada Police Officer Dillon Vakoff’s murder, appeared in Jefferson County District Court before Judge Russell B. Klein on Sept. 20 for an advisement hearing where Almanza was made aware of the charges he faces in connection with the events of Sept. 11.  

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Suspect in Arvada PD Officer Vakoff murder appears in court for advisement hearing

Preliminary hearing date set, sealed warrants and affidavits could become unsealed

Posted

Sonny Almanza, the suspect in Arvada Police Officer Dillon Vakoff’s murder, appeared in Jefferson County District Court before Judge Russell B. Klein on Sept. 20 for an advisement hearing where Almanza was made aware of the charges he faces in connection with the events of Sept. 11.  

First Judicial District Attorney Alexis King has charged Almanza with three counts of Murder in the First Degree (of a Peace Officer, After Deliberation/With Intent, Extreme Indifference) for Vakoff’s murder, two counts of Attempt to Commit Murder in the First Degree against Mercedes Lopez — who was previously identified as a “female victim” by APD.

Almanza was also charged with Assault in the Second Degree (against Lopez), Possession of a Weapon by a Previous Offender, using a prohibited large-capacity magazine during a crime, First Degree Criminal Trespass and two counts of Crime of Violence.

Upon arrest, Almanza was charged with two counts of child abuse, neither of which appear on the finalized complaint.

The First Judicial Critical Incident Response Team is investigating the use of force by Officer Vakoff in the incident, while the Arvada Police Department is investigating Vakoff’s murder and the attempted murder of Lopez.

Arvada Police confirmed that Lopez — who was hospitalized for a gunshot wound incurred during the incident — was released from the hospital last week in stable condition.

Other developments in the case of The People of the State of Colorado vs. Sonny Almanza  

On Sept. 19, the People filed a motion not objecting to the Court unsealing the sealed affidavit and warrants. The Court set a deadline for Sept. 23 for the defense to respond, either consenting or objecting to the unsealing.

At that time, the Court will review the response and either decide the matter via a written response or set the matter for hearing.

There is currently a protection order in place prohibiting Almanza from contacting his children. Almanza filed a request to vacate the protection order; the People will respond to that request in writing by Sept. 23.

The Court also set a date for a hearing on any written motions filed by either party pertaining to the preliminary hearing. That hearing is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. Oct. 7.

Finally, the Preliminary Hearing and Proof Evident/Presumption Great Hearing is set for 8 a.m. Nov. 9.

“If the Court finds ‘finds that the proof is evident or the presumption is great as to the crime alleged to have been committed and finds that the public would be placed in significant peril if the accused were released on bail’ the defendant will continue to be held without bail,” a statement from King’s office said. “Conversely, if the Court does not, bail may be set.”

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