Updated: September 5, 2013 at 8:11 am
It was a well-known secret among the city's homeless: If you were broke and needed meth, go see the man under the bridge.
Just be ready to work for it.
Prosecutors on Wednesday cited a drugs-for-sex scheme as a possible factor in the slaying of 48-year-old Timothy Shawn Jordan, a homeless man whose penis was severed during a vicious stabbing near Interstate 25 and the Cimarron Street overpass.
Details of the Jan. 28 murder - and Jordan's alleged practice of providing drugs for sex - were heard in court as a judge sentenced his killer, Walter Joe Martin Jr., to 28 years in prison, an agreed-upon penalty for Martin's guilty plea to second-degree murder in the heat of passion. Also homeless, Martin, 37, had been facing a first-degree murder charge and the possibility of life in prison.
Despite the guilty plea, circumstances of the crime remain under dispute.
In acknowledging his guilt, Martin told the court that he resorted to violence because Jordan, a Denver native, had threatened to sexually assault him.
Portraying the killing as a case of self-defense gone too far, public defenders Hilary Perry and Justin Bawden say Martin lashed out to protect himself but ended up severing Jordan's genitals in a fury.
Their claims met a skeptical response from prosecutors and angered the victim's relatives, who suspect a more mundane motive.
"I'm fairly certain that my brother had drugs and he went to get them," Kristina Jordan-Proctor of Scottsdale, Ariz., said last month after Martin's plea hearing.
She and Jordan's nephew briefly stepped out of Martin's sentencing hearing Wednesday as defense attorneys relayed Martin's account of the case.
"Anything he has to say is going to be self-serving," Jordan-Proctor said. "I don't want to dignify anything he says." Relatives say Jordan's addictions led to a tough life on the streets, but insist he wasn't a violent person.
"He (Martin) just wants to sit up there and spit his trash," said Joshua Jordan of Denver, a nephew.
That Jordan shared drugs for sex was well-known among the homeless community, said lead prosecutor Jim Bentley, expressing doubts that self-defense was a factor.
"Pretty much everyone else in the community knew. It's hard to believe he didn't have some knowledge," Bentley said of Jordan's price for meth. At the same time, prosecutors didn't have evidence to prove the killing happened during a robbery, as relatives suspect.
In asking El Paso County District Judge Larry E. Schwartz to accept the plea deal, Bentley cited "proof issues" that would have made it difficult to combat Martin's claims.
Although an "extremely small" group of homeless witnesses told investigators Martin confessed to the stabbing on the streets, a trial would have turned on their credibility - bringing substance abuse and mental illness into the mix.
"We have little by way of physical evidence, aside from the crime scene," Bentley said.
Family members supported the deal - with reservations.
"The sentence just doesn't seem completely just, but at least it's something we can put behind us now," said Jordan-Proctor.
Joshua Jordan said investigators did "a good job getting to the bottom of this." Nevertheless, he was told chances at trial were 50-50 or worse, he said.
"He could have walked."