A Colorado Springs man begged his killer for mercy before he was gunned down last year in a darkened parking lot outside an east-side motel.

“I didn’t do anything. Please don’t hurt me,” Robert Maples repeatedly cried out before he was fatally wounded April 21, 2018, prosecutors alleged on Wednesday as a trial began for the man charged in the attack, David Allen Rhoads.

A second witness reportedly heard Maples tell the gunman: “I didn’t do it.”

The precise meaning of those words, however, remains a mystery, authorities acknowledged.

The shooting occurred about 11 p.m. outside the Value Inn and Suites, 6875 Space Village Ave.

Maples, 50, died three days later. Rhoads, 40, was arrested a short time later in his motel room and is charged with first-degree murder, facing the potential of life in prison without parole if convicted. He denies involvement.

During opening statements in 4th Judicial District Court, prosecutors acknowledged they don’t know what sparked the attack, but said motel surveillance footage removes doubt over who’s responsible — capturing a foot chase in which Maples can be seen running out of Rhoads’ room, down a hallway and through an exit, with Rhoads running after him, a pistol in hand.

Within 20 minutes, Rhoads can be seen re-entering the motel alone, his face sweaty but with no gun. Authorities say the pistol was found at a roadside, near where a witness saw the gunman toss it as he headed back in the direction of the motel.

At least three people who were near the motel during the shooting got a look at the assailant, and two reported hearing Maples’ pleas for mercy.

Rhoads’ attorneys say he wasn’t the shooter, calling him the victim of a sloppy investigation by El Paso County sheriff’s detectives, who they say jumped to conclusions and bent the evidence to “fit their story.”

They say Rhoads doesn’t match witnesses’ descriptions of the shooter.

One of those witnesses said the assailant wore dreadlocks, but Rhoads had short hair at the time.

Rhoads’ public defenders hit a roadblock in court, however, as they sought to tie the killing to Maples’ involvement in the prosecutions of Colorado Springs triple-murderers Richard Spanks and Haywood Miller Jr., who are serving life sentences after being convicted at separate trials.

Maples, who worked the door at a Colorado Springs drug house where two of the three victims were killed, cooperated with investigators and took the stand against one of the men only weeks earlier.

As one of Rhoads’ attorneys tried to suggest that Spanks and Miller could be responsible, the judge halted his opening statement, sustaining an objection from prosecutors.

After a sidebar conference, 4th Judicial District Judge David Gilbert barred further references to Spanks and Miller, agreeing that the defense failed to properly endorse them as a “alternate suspects” under Colorado’s rules governing trials.

That deprived the prosecution the advance notice they would need to investigate and rule out potential links in the case, Gilbert found.

The trial is expected to conclude by early next week.

Reporter

I cover legal affairs for The Gazette, with an emphasis on the criminal courts. Tips to lance.benzel@gazette.com

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