Parole violator identified as 3rd suspect in murder of Nathaniel Tallman

BOULDER, Colo. - A parole violator has become the third suspect in the marijuana deal gone bad that ended in the murder of Lafayette resident Nathaniel Tallman.

Tallman, 25, was last seen driving from his home Jan. 21. His body was found near Lusk, Wyoming, on March 13.

Police quickly arrested Russell Britton in Boulder County and Moises Cazares Mendez in California.

On Tuesday, the Boulder District Attorney's Office confirmed that a 38-year-old parolee, Daniel Harold Ortiz, is the third suspect in the case.

Ortiz was arrested on Jan. 25 -- four days after Tallman disappeared -- for careless driving, driving with a revoked license and parole violation in Fort Collins, 7NEWS has learned from arrest records. Because of the parole violation, Ortiz was returned to the custody of the state Department of Corrections on March 10.

According to a police report, Tallman was shot to death after planning to meet Britton on a marijuana deal on the night he disappeared.

Phone records show calls between Tallman and Britton leading up to the meeting, investigators said. The last call was at 6:41 p.m. on Jan. 21.

Tallman's phone last pinged off cell towers at 7:52 p.m., and showed a location very close to Britton's home on South County Road 21 in Larimer County.

Britton told investigators Tallman never showed up for the meeting.

Britton said he drove to Minot, N.D. later that evening, along a route that took him down U.S. Highway 85 near the town of Lusk, where Tallman's body was found. A search of Britton's van turned up blood that matched Tallman's DNA profile. Britton said Tallman had never been in the van.

So far, Britton is the only suspect who's been formally charged in the killing.

Boulder district attorney spokeswoman Catherine Olguin said prosecutors anticipate that Mendez and Ortiz will appear in court Friday to be formally charged.

The charges accuse Britton of robbing Tallman for his car and marijuana on the night the Lafayette man disappeared.

At this point, Britton is not accused of a hands-on role in the killing. However, he's charged with first-degree murder because prosecutors allege that, while Britton was committing the robbery, Tallman died "in the course of or in furtherance of that crime, or in the immediate flight" after the robbery.

Britton is charged with being an accessory, who "unlawfully and feloniously rendered assistance to Moises Mendez and Daniel Ortiz, with intent to hinder, delay, or prevent the discovery, detection, apprehension, prosecution, conviction, or punishment of Moises Mendez and Daniel Ortiz for the commission of a crime, knowing that person committed the crime of Murder in the First Degree," according to a criminal complaint.

Britton is also charged with felony marijuana trafficking that involved between 5 pounds and 100 pounds of pot.

Britton and Mendez both have previous arrest records. Britton's rap sheet includes arrests for theft, forgery and driving under suspension. Mendez' rap sheet includes arrests for menacing, domestic violence and for being a habitual traffic offender.

Ortiz was on parole after serving a five-year prison sentence for a 2009 conviction in Adams County for aggravated motor vehicle theft and felony vehicular eluding police, court records state. Ortiz also has prior arrests for drug possession, illegal weapon possession and DUI. 

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