Published: November 14, 2013
A man who confessed to killing a Security-Widefield auto mechanic as part of a drug-addled plot hatched by the victim's wife and stepdaughter is pleading insanity.
Attorneys for Tommy Alan Wright, 35, entered a rare plea of not guilty by reason of insanity Thursday in the slaying of 47-year-old Miguel "Mike" Barajas, who was found shot to death Feb. 13 inside his home at 118 Judson St. after an apparent break in.
Authorities say the home was left in disarray, and Barajas' gun collection and other personal items had been stolen, giving the appearance of a deadly burglary.
But El Paso County sheriff's investigators quickly suspected there was more to the story - and they say Wright filled in all the details, confessing that he was recruited to murder Barajas by the victim's wife, Sandra Barajas, and stepdaughter, Dawn Richburg, who hoped to profit from the death by collecting on Barajas' life insurance policy.
The confession - offered in exchange for Mountain Dew and cigarettes - stopped short an El Paso County grand jury probe into the killing and resulted in murder charges against the trio, according to testimony during a preliminary hearing in August.
According to Wright's videotaped confession, which was played at the court hearing, Wright lay in wait inside Barajas' bedroom for the mechanic to come home from work and then opened fire with a rifle and a pistol as Barajas walked inside.
Afterward, Wright said he staged a burglary in which he rifled through cabinets, stole guns and other personal items, and then used spray paint to inscribe gang tags on the walls.
He said that he, Richburg and Barajas hashed out details of the slaying in the Barajas family basement the previous night, all while sharing methamphetamine.
The scheme unraveled before anyone saw any insurance money, authorities say.
Barajas and Richburg have each pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder. Barajas is scheduled for a Feb. 4 trial, and Richburg is set to face a jury on March 10.
After pleading insanity on Thursday, Wright was ordered to undergo a psychiatric evaluation at the Colorado State Mental Health Institute in Pueblo.
Fourth Judicial District Judge Jann P. DuBois set a Feb. 13 hearing to review the progress of the evaluation.
In Colorado, insanity is defined as an inability to distinguish right from wrong because of a psychiatric defect.
If found not guilty by reason of insanity, Wright would be committed indefinitely to the state's Mental Health Institute.