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Gun used to kill newlyweds was stolen in burglary in same Colorado Springs neighborhood

September 25, 2013 Updated: September 26, 2013 at 11:56 am
photo - Whitney Butler and David Dunlap. (Facebook)
Whitney Butler and David Dunlap. (Facebook) 

At 17, Macyo January was too young to purchase a firearm.

But according to police, that didn't keep him from stealing them.

Investigators on Wednesday said the gun used to kill Fort Carson Staff Sgt. David Dunlap and his wife Whitney Butler on Jan. 14 had been stolen from a nearby home a month earlier as part of a slew of burglaries allegedly committed by January.

The weapon - a Walther .40-caliber semiautomatic pistol - was taken Dec. 6 during a burglary in the 0-100 block of South Hayman Avenue, a quarter mile from where the newlyweds were slain by an intruder at 222 Bassett Drive on the city's east side, Colorado Springs police detective Donald Chagnon testified on the second day of a multi-day hearing.

Police previously testified Dunlap and Butler were killed one at a time, after coming home from their respective jobs to check on a burglar alarm reported by ADT, their home security provider.

Chagnon on Wednesday described the forensic testing that linked the Walther to two spent shell casings inside the home, and disclosed that DNA analysis determined that January was the primary contributor to biological material on the gun.

The weapon was found on nearby Garo Street after it was discarded by a fleeing January as police chased him from the Dunlap home, police said.

Butler and Dunlap each died of a single gunshot wound in what prosecutor Reggie Short described Wednesday as an "execution-style attack."

The gun evidence - made public for the first time Wednesday - came on a day of testimony in which El Paso County District Judge Deborah Grohs ruled that prosecutors have enough evidence to try January in the murders. The judge ruled that January also will face trial in a series of previously unsolved burglaries, including a disturbing crime in which a 71-year-old woman was beaten and robbed in her home twice in four months. January also is charged with a daytime burglary involving an assault on a 15-year-old girl home sick from school.

He was ordered held without bond.

Still to be decided is an issue that could have significant bearing on January's sentence, should he be convicted of the crimes.

January, who was 17 at the time of the killings, was charged as an adult in District Court where, if convicted, he faces a life sentence with the chance of parole after 40 years. Prosecutors fear that a transfer to Juvenile Court could shave years from his sentence.

Grohs is expected to decide the issue Thursday, when testimony is expected to conclude.

As part of their case, January's court-appointed attorneys on Wednesday called witnesses who described January's troubled home life and his turbulent past with the courts.

January, his legs shackled, sat impassively at the defense table during the hearing. He didn't turn to acknowledge those in the gallery, including his grandparents and relatives of the slain couple.

His first criminal conviction came at age 14, and after further disciplinary problems January landed in a series of custodial programs, including a substance abuse treatment center, a wilderness program designed to address "antisocial thinking," and ultimately a group home in Stratmoor Valley from which he escaped in September 2012, according to testimony.

Asked if January was receptive to terms of his probation, El Paso County probation officer Chere Cheney responded: "It depended on if he was in placement or on the run."

January was adopted by his grandmother at a young age after his mother's parental rights were terminated because of "drug and alcohol issues," Cheney said. She also supervised probationary sentences against January's younger brother and older sister, she said.

Testimony is expected to continue at 8:30 a.m. Thursday.

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