May 24, 2013 Updated: May 24, 2013 at 6:15 pm
A Colorado Springs teenager charged in the home-invasion slayings of a Fort Carson soldier and his pregnant wife is suspected in as many as 20 unsolved burglaries, including one involving an attack on an "at-risk" person.
Macyo Joelle January, who was 17 at the time of the slayings of David Dunlap and Whitney Butler, has already been charged in a September home invasion, and prosecutors say more charges could come.
"I think it's important to make sure these are all good cases," lead prosecutor Jeffrey Lindsey said Friday at a brief hearing before 4th Judicial District Judge Deborah J. Grohs. He said police are investigating potential similarities in a slew of break-ins and awaiting forensic testing that may determine if January was involved.
Dunlap, a 37-year-old Army Staff Sergeant, and Butler, 35, were fatally shot Jan. 13 upon surprising a burglar in their central Colorado Springs home.
Police disclosed at a February court hearing that officers didn't respond when a home security company alerted them to a burglary alarm at the couple's residence some 45 minutes before a neighbor reported hearing gunshots.
The department gets an average of 5,000 calls from home security companies each year, many of them false alarms, according to figures police released to KOAA news. Police spokeswoman Barbara Miller didn't respond to The Gazette's request in February for interviews about the police response in the Dunlap case.
Details about the widening investigation into January emerged Friday as defense attorneys representing him on the first-degree murder charges asked for more time to prepare for a key hearing into the slayings. Judge Grohs agreed to postpone the so-called reverse transfer hearing, at which she will rule on a request by January's attorneys to have him transferred back to Juvenile Court. The case was initially filed in Juvenile Court but prosecutors petitioned to have it transferred to District Court.
Although January was 17 at the time of the double homicide, prosecutors used their discretion under the law to charge him with as an adult. A prosecution in adult court would likely mean a more substantial sentence. If convicted in adult court, he faces life in prison with the chance of parole after 40 years.
The transfer hearing is now set for a four-day span beginning Sept. 24.
An arrest affidavit wasn't immediately available on the latest charges filed against January, which appear to revolve around a Sept. 25 home invasion in Colorado Springs. Twenty two counts were filed, including assault with a deadly weapon inflicting serious bodily injury against an at-risk person. Under Colorado law, the phrase at-risk person can describe both juveniles and someone over age 65. Such crimes may carry additional penalties. January was also charged with aggravated motor vehicle theft, criminal mischief, harassment and a slew of sentence enhancers in the September break-in.
Lindsey said at the hearing that the new charges were filed after DNA testing by Colorado Springs police linked him to the home invasion and assault.
In addition to that crime, police investigators are studying as many as 19 other break-ins in central Colorado Springs that bear similarity to the break-in at the Dunlap residence, according to Lindsey's comments at the hearing.
January's attorneys, public defenders Marcus Henson and Noreen Simpson, declined to comment on the new charges after the hearing.
The transfer hearing in 4th Judicial District Court will be only the third time such an effort has been mounted in Colorado, Simpson said.