Police: Man accused of killing 3 was pursuing drug debt in Denver

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DENVER | A man accused of killing three homeless people in a Denver parking lot was pursuing a drug debt owed by at least two of the people found shot in the head, according to court records.

Police arrested Maurice Butler days after the Aug. 8 killings. Police found the bodies of 28-year-old Nicole Boston, 39-year-old Jerome Coronado and 45-year-old Christopher Zamudio in a south Denver parking lot. Each of them had been shot in the head.

“There is no evidence of a disturbance or any type of resistance from the victims and there is no evidence of a robbery,” Denver Police Detective Daniel Andrews wrote in an arrest affidavit for Butler. “It appears that all three victims were executed.”

According to court records unsealed in September, several people who knew Boston and Coronado told police that the pair was afraid of Butler because they owed him money for drugs. Boston and Coronado also told people that they were hiding from Butler, who was known as Khaos.

Several witnesses told police that Coronado had been beaten at least once because of the money owed to Butler.

It’s not clear how much money was involved.

Another woman told police that she had sold drugs for Butler and heard he was involved in the killings. The woman said she also heard that Butler had offered to forgive other drug-buyers’ debts to him in exchange for information about where Coronado and Boston were camping.

The court records do not indicate any connection between Butler and Zamudio, the third person killed.

KMGH-TV first reported the details on Tuesday.

Butler, 38, has not yet entered a plea. He is represented by attorneys with the Colorado State Public Defender’s office, who are barred from commenting on cases by the office’s policies. He remains in the Denver jail without bond.

Butler was arrested on Aug. 13 for parole violations and remained in jail as police continued investigating the shootings. In early September, they arrested Butler on suspicion of the murder charges.

According to police, Butler was wearing a GPS ankle monitor as a condition of his parole. The tracking data showed Butler had been to the parking lot on Aug. 8 just before midnight, the same time a witness in the area reported gunshots to police. Police also found text messages on Butler’s phone discussing money Boston owed him.

Forensic testing did exclude Butler’s DNA from being on bullet casings found near the victims’ bodies. Police wrote in the arrest affidavit that a gun loaded by one person can “obviously be handed off to other people who do not need to handle the ammunition before firing it.”

The next sentence of the document, discussing a statement that Butler gave to police, was crossed out. Other portions of the document regarding the statement Butler gave to police after his Aug. 13 arrest for parole violations also were blacked out.