AURORA, Colo. — A 30-year-old man was sentenced to prison after he shot another man to death in Aurora on Thanksgiving Day 2016.
On June 21, Arapahoe County District Court Judge Ben Leutwyler sentenced Francisco Martin Talamantes to life in prison plus 126 years for the fatal shooting of 45-year-old Eduardo Hernandez-Zuniga.
The crime occurred on Nov. 24, 2016. Talamantes went to the Travelodge Motel on E. 6th Avenue looking to kill a man he said had “snitched.” Two other men — Luis “Malo” Zamora-Ornelas, 20, and David Alberto “Pato” Garcia, 30 — joined him.
Hernandez-Zuniga left his motel room to get a drink from the vending machine. There were other people in the room, though police didn’t specify who they were. After he had left the room, the three armed men entered the room looking for him. When Hernandez-Zuniga reentered the room, he got into an argument with the armed intruders. Seconds later, he was shot. The bullet went through his arm and into his chest.
The shooters fled the scene and the other people in the room called 911.
Aurora police interviewed the other people who had been in the room with Hernandez-Zuniga. They also obtained security camera video. When police identified Talamantes as a suspect, they learned he was wanted on several outstanding warrants.
The next day, Denver officers located Talamantes in Denver in a stolen Hyundai Sonata that matched the description of the vehicle at the Travelodge. Officers pursued the car, which was being followed by a Ford Eagle.
Around W. Cedar Avenue and S. Tejon Street in Denver, Talamantes set the Hyundai on fire and got into the Edge, which had also been stolen. His girlfriend had been driving the Edge, but when Talamantes switched cars, he got into the driver’s seat. He then led police on a high-speed, off-road pursuit through parts of the Highline Canal bike path.
Police followed the Edge to the intersection of E. 8th Avenue and Canosa Street, where Talamantes was arrested after trying to flee on foot.
Shortly after the shooting at the hotel, Zamora-Ornelas, one of the armed men who entered the hotel room with Talamantes, was found shot to death on the front porch of a home along the block of 4300 block of Fillmore Street in Denver.
The third suspect involved in the hotel room shooting, Garcia, was arrested on Dec. 2, 2016 after he\ was found in a stolen car. He shot and killed a man in a road rage incident just before his arrest. He would later plead guilty to second-degree murder in that case.
A jury found Talamantes guilty of first-degree felony murder — which is a mandatory life sentence without parole — on Jan. 15, 2019. He was also found guilty of the following charges:
· First-degree burglary, 48 years in prison
· Aggravated motor vehicle theft, 48 years in prison
· Second-degree arson, 24 years in prison
· Tampering with evidence, 6 years in prison
Garcia was convicted of felony murder on March 7, 2018 in connection to the death of Hernandez-Zuniga. He was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
Because Leutwyler found that Talamantes is a habitual criminal, he said all counts will be served consecutively.