A Pueblo man who shot his neighbor in the chest in February 2021 pleaded guilty to lesser charges Friday to avoid prison time.
Gilbert Jimenez, 69, was originally charged with attempted first-degree murder in February 2021 after shooting his neighbor, Roger Richards, in a dispute over moving a parked car from the curb outside Richards' home, according to court documents.
In the court of Judge Allison P. Ernst on Friday, Jimenez pleaded guilty to second-degree assault in exchange for a sentence recommendation of a suspended 12-year sentence with 10 years of probation. The charge of attempted murder was dropped by 10th Judicial District Attorney Jeff Chostner in exchange for Jimenez's plea.
The incident began when a verbal argument escalated to Jimenez shooting Richards, who police later found lying in the street on East Evans Avenue with a gunshot wound.
Jimenez initially claimed self-defense and said that Richards "came at him" two or three times prior to the shooting.
Monte Montenegro, a neighbor who claimed to have witnessed the shooting, told officers that Richards did not have any weapons on him and was not threatening Jimenez in any way. Montenegro told police Jimenez had threatened him as well, saying, "I'll get you next," according to court documents. Montenegro said he feared for his life.
Richards told Chieftain news partner KRDO News Channel 13 he's suffered several health complications as a result of the shooting and expressed outrage with the district attorney's decision to allow a plea deal in the case.
"It's hard to accept that the man that shot you is not going to jail," Richards said. "He tried to take 23-27 years away from my life."
"He served less than one hour per year in jail," Richards said, alluding to how Jimenez posted a $100,000 bond and was released from jail before Richards even left the hospital.
In a phone interview with the Chieftain, Jimenez's attorney Joseph Koncilja claimed Richards approached Jimenez in a threatening manner and his client acted in self-defense. "This guy's narrative is he was shot for no reason. Our narrative is that he came out acting a fool and was very aggressively approaching the client's grandson," Koncilja said. "My client, based on the way he viewed (Richards), felt threatened and ended up shooting him one time."
While Jimenez maintains he acted in self-defense, Koncilja said that due to Jimenez's age and poor health, a conviction at trial may have meant he would have died in prison. "Neither side was very happy, and sometimes if neither side is happy, that means it's a pretty good deal," Koncilja said.
Jimenez's sentencing is scheduled for Jan. 6, 2023, after a pre-sentence investigation is completed.
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This article originally appeared on The Pueblo Chieftain: Pueblo man who shot neighbor takes plea to avoid prison