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Kansas suspect convicted, sentenced in murder of La Junta man

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Posted at 5:13 PM, Sep 08, 2022
and last updated 2022-09-08 19:13:02-04

OTERO COUNTY, Colo. — A Kansas man was convicted of murder and sentenced in connection with the homicide of a man in La Junta in May 2021.

On Monday, a jury in Otero County convicted Matthew Perez, 39, of Garden City, Kansas, of first-degree murder, according to the Colorado Bureau of Investigation. On Wednesday, he was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

The charges stem from May 14, 2021, when Ernesto Apodaca, 50, of La Junta, was found shot inside his vehicle, which was parked in front of his apartment building along the 600 block of Sunrise Avenue in La Junta's Morningside Heights neighborhood, according to CBI.

Perez, along with Nikki Olivas, 32, were both arrested outside Garden City in May 2021 in connection with Apodaca's death.

Perez was charged with first-degree murder and Olivas was charged with accessory to first-degree murder, according to CBI.

Olivias was sentenced to six years in prison, according to CBI.

Authorities believe that Apodaca and Perez knew each other, according to CBI.

The La Junta Police Department investigated this homicide, along with the Colorado Bureau of Investigation, Otero County Sheriff's Office, Colorado State Patrol, Finney County Sheriff’s Office (Kansas), Garden City Police Department (Kansas), Otero County Coroner's Office and the 16th Judicial District Attorney’s Office.