Published: June 20, 2013
A reputed Colorado Springs gang member is set to receive a reduced sentence after pleading guilty Thursday to participating in two fatal shootings last year - both while he was out of jail on bond.
Under a plea bargain with prosecutors, 30-year-old Carlos "Dulo" Ford will get a 33-year sentence after admitting his involvement in back-to-back slayings that occurred within six weeks of each other.
Sentencing is scheduled for Aug. 29 before 4th Judicial District Judge William Bain.
At the time of the killings - which occurred in March and April of 2012 -- Ford was free on $25,000 bond on an aggravated robbery case that was later dismissed, according to the El Paso County Sheriff's Office. Jail records show Ford bonded out Dec. 7, 2012, after spending a year in custody.
Initially charged with first-degree murder for each shooting, Ford pleaded guilty to manslaughter in one and second-degree murder in the other, eluding the possibility of life in prison without parole.
The first slaying occurred March 3, when Virgil "Jason" Means was shot in the back outside the Sin City Disciples motorcycle club on West Vermijo Avenue while in the passenger seat of a fleeing car.
An associate of the motorcycle gang, Ford was accused of driving a car that provided cover for at least three shooters who opened fire on Means and his driver, both of whom were unarmed.
The plea bargain calls for Ford to serve 10 years in Means' death, with the remaining portion of the sentence stemming from his guilty plea to second-degree murder in the death of Daniel Garcia, whose body was found April 23 in a sport-utility vehicle ditched outside Whispering Pines Apartments, 3050 E. Fountain Blvd.
In an arrest warrant, Colorado Springs police said Garcia served in Ford's gang and sold drugs for him. Police allege that Ford terminated their business arrangement in dramatic fashion: By grabbing his employee's gun and shooting him in the face at point-blank range.
Standing at a podium with his hands cuffed behind his back, Ford politely answered a judge's questions but didn't provide a detailed explanation of his actions in either shooting.
He denied being under the influence of drugs and said he doesn't suffer from mental illness.
"Are you pleased with your attorneys?" Bain asked.
"Very much so, your honor," went his soft-spoken response, as attorneys Josh Tolini and Jeff Barker stood at his side.
Of the four men who were charged with first-degree murder in the Sin City case, two beat murder charges at trial, leading prosecutors to offer plea deals to manslaughter for Ford and the other co-defendant - in what Means' relatives angrily called a travesty of justice.
Ford is also awaiting a July 8 sentencing in Federal Court in Denver after pleading guilty to possession of a firearm by a previous offender. He faces up to six years in federal prison in that case.
Last year's killings weren't the first time Ford has landed on police radar on suspicion of murder.
In 2005, he was charged with first-degree murder in the slaying of Joshua Delaney. All charges were dismissed, however, after the disappearance of an eyewitness. Despite a long record of arrests, Ford has only one prior felony conviction.
Within days of Delaney's death, Ford is alleged to have fired a weapon at a man while trying to collect a crack cocaine debt in Colorado Springs. Charged with attempted murder, he pleaded guilty to second-degree assault and served most of his six year sentence.