Two mothers sit in courtroom 4E at the Jefferson County courthouse, and both ponder the lives of their sons.
They sit on opposite sides of the center aisle, with the one on the left recalling April 3, 2007, when her son’s life was cut short, and the other, on the right, watching her two sons with their hands shackled to their waists, facing murder charges and prison sentences that could mark the end of their lives as they know them.
Both mothers sat through more than six hours of motions hearings last week, spread over two days and argued among two deputy district attorneys and four defense attorneys — two for each Zamora brother.
Adam Zamora, 21, and Aaron Zamora, 20, stand accused of the April 3, 2007, slaying of Dylan Newman in a South Jeffco home. Newman, 20 at the time of his death, was allegedly trying to buy 3 pounds of marijuana from the Zamora brothers, and went to the house with more than $11,000 in cash. Once inside the home's garage, Adam Zamora allegedly tried to rob Newman at gunpoint. A fight ensued, and Newman hit the ground with a gunshot wound to the neck, a wound he died from minutes after it was inflicted.
Aaron Zamora was arrested the next day, along with Eric Rooney and Jeffrey Depault, who allegedly arranged the deal between Newman and the Zamora brothers. Adam Zamora was arrested in Aurora six days later, after a Crimestoppers’ tipster notified authorities of his location. Rooney and Depault have pleaded guilty in the case.
Many of the more than two dozen motions filed in the case were standard fare in murder trials, filed by one or both of the defendants and seeking to suppress the search warrant used at Aaron Zamora's home, the search warrant used for the truck Adam Zamora had when he was arrested and statements made by Adam when he was taken into custody.
Perhaps the most notable motion filed last week was when both Aaron and Adam Zamora's attorneys filed motions asking District Judge Dennis Hall to recuse himself from the case, based on him agreeing to limit the sentence Depault was supposed to face in the case from a possible 80 years to a maximum of 48 years.
"This comes as a complete surprise to the court," Hall said Feb. 25. "I am puzzled to say the least," he continued, noting that there was nothing improper in the way he handled the Depault plea agreement that would be grounds for recusal.
Deputy District Attorney Steve Jensen called the motion "frivolous and devoid of any merit."
"Whether the court has a bias or not is not even the bottom line," said Mandarin Bowers, one of Adam Zamora's attorneys. She argued that the fact that Hall agreed to the sentencing recommendations made during the Depault hearing could suggest to jurors in the Zamora trial that Hall tacitly supported Depault's testimony, which is expected to be detrimental to the Zamoras.
Hall denied the motion.
Bowers also filed a motion attempting to force the prosecution and law enforcement to reveal who the Crimestoppers tipster was, implying that it was a girl who was spending time with Adam shortly before he was arrested.
Jensen said the DA's office had no statutory obligation to reveal the tipster’s identity, and that his office is, in fact, mandated by law to keep that information private in the vast majority of situations.
Hall had yet to issue an order on that motion as of 5 p.m. Feb. 28.
A pretrial conference was set in the case for 2 p.m. June 9, when jury questionnaires will be discussed. The trial is slated to begin July 8.