Published: May 21, 2013
CENTENNIAL - An attorney for the woman accused of providing the weapon used to kill Colorado's prisons chief said parolee Evan Ebel forced her to turn over the gun.
Stevie Marie Anne Vigil pleaded not guilty Tuesday to a charge of buying a handgun and giving it to Ebel, the sole suspect in the March shooting death of state corrections chief Tom Clements.
After a brief hearing Tuesday in Arapahoe County District Court, defense attorney Normando Pacheco declined to say how Ebel forced Vigil to give him the gun.
Her cousin, Victor Baca, has said he believes Ebel intimidated her into handing over the gun. Baca said he knew Ebel since elementary school, and Vigil knew Ebel through him.
Prosecutors said Vigil, 22, bought a 9mm Smith & Wesson handgun on March 6 and gave it to Ebel, a convicted felon who wasn't allowed to have a gun.
Vigil is charged with illegal purchase of a gun and is free on $25,000 bond.
The case against Vigil is one piece of the puzzle surrounding the March 19 killing of Tom Clements, who was shot when he answered the door of his Monument home. Ebel was killed days later in a shootout with law-enforcement officers in Texas.
Ebel also has been linked to the killing of Nathan Leon, a pizza deliveryman in the Denver area, two days before Clements was killed. Denver police have said they are confident Ebel was involved in Leon's slaying but won't say whether the same gun was also used to kill Leon. Denver police spokeswoman Raquel Lopez said the Leon case remains under investigation.
Sheriff's investigators in El Paso County, where Clements lived, have been investigating whether anyone besides Ebel was involved in Clements' death.
Spokesmen for the sheriff and the Colorado Department of Corrections did not immediately return calls Tuesday.
Investigators have not publicly discussed a motive for Clements' death. Ebel was a member of a white supremacist gang in prison but authorities have not said whether they believe the gang had a role in the slaying.
After Clements was killed, authorities disclosed that Ebel had been released from prison four years early due to a clerical error. After his release, he slipped the monitoring ankle bracelet he was required to wear as a condition of his parole.
Vigil is scheduled to go on trial Aug. 12.