PUEBLO — The murder trial for Anthony Cuevas gets underway this week in Pueblo on charges he killed his mother and disposed of her body across town in suitcases.
The first day of the trial consisted only of jury selection. Currently, the joint list of witnesses contains 153 names, 145 under the prosecution and 8 under the defense.
In the first half-hour, the prosecution made their concerns knows regarding the fact that Melanie Cuevas, Anthony's wife, is also facing separate charges pertaining to the murder if her mother-in-law, Maria Cuevas-Garcia. They discussed potential conflicts that could occur within Anthony's trial, depending on how his wife's charges unfold.
“They just want to keep it separate. They’re two separate cases. Two separate sets of facts, the whole bit, and so they don’t want another set of facts influencing this case and the possibility of a mistrial,” said Judge Dennis Maes, providing some insight into the issue.
Maes expects that the long list of witnesses will diminish drastically, but says “The length of the trial, I couldn't even begin to guess how long it would be".
As the case resurfaces over a year and a half since part of Garcia's dismembered body was first found, many of those who knew her are reliving her death.
“Everybody's still feeling pretty sad about it. They were good people and she was a good lady, and their grandkids lost a good grandma,” said Jeff Velasquez, who says he lived next door to Garcia and her husband, Ron, for roughly 12 years at his mother's house. She is one of those 153 people on the witness list.
Velasquez says he was not living at home at the time of Garcia's murder, but claims that as soon as he saw the camera footage (below), he "knew immediately" that he recognized the car. The car in the video where a figure is seen pulling a suitcase from a trunk and tossing it in a dumpster is suspected to be Ron's.
On October 17, 2019, Pueblo police officers found some of the remains of 58-year-old Maria Cuevas-Garcia inside that dumpster.
Security video released later in the day shows a man placing objects into the dumpster outside a car wash on Ivywood Lane.
As the coroner's office made a positive identification of the victim, police were also trying to determine the location of the rest of her remains. According to police, Maria Cuevas-Garcia's head, hands, and feet were removed by her killer. In April 2020, additional remains were found alongside the Arkansas River.
Several days after the body was dumped, 36-year-old Anthony Cuevas and his wife, Melanie, were arrested outside a restaurant. Police charged the son with first-degree murder and for a parole violation. The wife was charged with criminal impersonation.
Detectives believe she was killed inside her own home, where the son was staying following his release from prison.
The victim's granddaughter, Destia Hamilton, told News5 in 2019, "She was pretty much the life of our family, she loved to be involved in everything, she was very selfless and helpful," said Hamilton.
Hamilton said she had been living with her grandmother since 2015, but moved out when her uncle moved into the home. "For him to do this after she was willing to open her home to him and feed him and his wife, you know, it just doesn't make any sense," said Hamilton.
Opening statements are projected to begin on Wednesday or Thursday. The trial is scheduled to last until July 19 but is subject to change.
News5 will keep you updated as trial proceedings begin in Pueblo.