Cuevas sentenced to life without parole

Photo credit KRDO Anthony and Melanie Cuevas

PUEBLO — Former Monte Vista resident Anthony Cuevas, 37, has been found guilty of first-degree murder in the death of his mother, Maria “Mary” Cuevas Garcia. The trial, originally expected to last two weeks, finished in roughly half that time, including the full day the jury spent in deliberation.

Upon reading the verdict of the jury, Judge Allison Ernst immediately sentenced Cuevas to life without parole. Cuevas was also charged and found guilty of eluding a police officer and identify theft. Sentences he received for those crimes will run concurrently.

Prosecutors for the state had an extensive and damning case against Cuevas that included a list of 146 witnesses who could be called to testify. During the trial, they brought a cadre of expert witnesses to the stand and presented an abundance of physical evidence related to the crime, including, as reported by the Pueblo Chieftain, blood-soaked rubber gloves found in Cuevas Garcia’s home near what appeared to be a “bloodletting scene.” DNA samples from inside the gloves matched both Cuevas and wife, Melanie, while Cuevas Garcia’s DNA was not present.

In contrast, the defense clearly had an uphill battle. With a list of potential witnesses that contained only eight names, defense attorney Philip DuBois attempted to present Cuevas’ wife as an alternative suspect in the murder, allegedly stemming from “bad blood” between the two women. Witchcraft also entered into the case as, reported by KRDO, Cuevas told police during an interrogation that a witch doctor had removed a block from his memory and he remembers being sexually abused, sold and trafficked by his mother – whom he said was a witch – and his stepfather whom he claimed was a member of the Mexican Mafia.

The defense also presented evidence from Melanie Cuevas’ cell phone that showed someone had been searching Google for “how to kill a witch.”

Ultimately, defense counsel failed to convince the jury as they returned a verdict of guilty.

The killing of Maria Cuevas Garcia swept headlines across the state when, on the night of October 17, 2019, Pueblo law enforcement enlisted the public’s assistance in identifying the victim and possible suspect in the crime by broadcasting surveillance video that had captured the image of a man driving a 2018 dark blue Nissan Sentra tossing a heavy suitcase in a dumpster outside a car wash in Pueblo. They also broadcast photos taken of a distinctive clown tattoo on the victim’s thigh.

Within a few hours, law enforcement had both the name of the victim and the possible identity of the suspect, both of which were provided by members of the family.

Anthony Cuevas, who already had an active warrant for his arrest for parole violation, was taken into custody the next day along with his wife, Melanie Cuevas, 38.

Authorities did not immediately release to the public that the suitcase only contained Cuevas Garcia’s torso, and her head, hands and feet had been disposed of in another location unknown to the authorities.  That additional information generated even more headlines.

Five months later, on March 10, 2020, a group of volunteers cleaning up the south bank of the Arkansas River found a trash bag containing the remainder of Mary Cuevas Garcia’s body, which they reported to a Park Ranger. The remains were identified as belonging to the victim.

It is not known at this time where or when Anthony Cuevas will be transferred to the Department of Corrections to serve his life sentence without parole.

Melanie Cuevas is still set to stand trial for her role in the crime. According to the court docket for Pueblo district court, the trial is slated to begin October 18.

The obituary for Maria “Mary” Agnes Cuevas Garcia, published in the Valley Courier on October 25, 2019, says she “enjoyed fishing and cooking, bingo, gambling, scratch tickets, dancing, listening to music, gardening, visiting with family and friends. She cherished spending time with her grandchildren, Halloween was her favorite holiday and she truly loved her husband and her dogs.”

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