He made the ruling Monday, April 15, in cases involving Brody Blu Kruckenberg and Charles Anthony Nelson, both 16, in connection with the shooting death of Gregorio Salazar Campos.
The youths were charged with murder and obstruction of justice on April 8. First-degree murder carries a possible sentence of five years to life in prison while the obstruction charge has a penalty of one to 15 years, Anderson said.
Kruckenberg’s mother, Corina Yardley, 44, was arrested April 8 and charged April 12 with obstruction of justice. Investigators allege that Yardley helped the two boys cover up the crime. Anderson set her cash-only bail at $50,000 during the April 15 hearing.
The three defendants are being held in the Grand County Jail. Their next court appearance will be at 9:30 a.m., Tuesday, May 7, in a continuation of the initial hearing. Preliminary hearing dates are expected to be set then, said Grand County Public Defender Don Torgerson, who was appointed by Anderson to represent Nelson.
Anderson appointed attorney Steve Russell to represent Kruckenberg and attorney Happy Morgan to represent Yardley. The suspects all asked for court-appointed lawyers, claiming indigence.
Yardley told the judge she is unemployed, receives no government compensation, and gets “occasional child support, but it’s nothing steady.”
Kruckenberg said he was previously employed at Frankie D’s and earned $350 per month while Nelson said he had worked for Zax and made $300 per month.
Campos’ body was found April 7 in shallow water near an old bridge footing in the Colorado River north of Moab, according to Grand County Sheriff Steve White. The 33-year-old Moab resident suffered multiple gunshot wounds to the head, White said.
Court documents indicate Campos was killed March 25. That was four days before his sister, Rocio Salazar Campos, reported him missing to the Moab City Police Department, Police Chief Mike Navarre said.
The two teens were taken into custody April 6 after an unidentified person told investigators Nelson had confessed to the killing and said the victim “was an illegal so no one will miss him,” according to a probable cause statement released by the Grand County Sheriff’s Office.
The informant told investigators that Nelson said a friend – later identified as Kruckenberg – wanted Nelson to help him kill a man. That man was later identified as Campos, who was allegedly shot while he slept in Yardley’s bed, according to the probable cause statement.
Nelson allegedly told the informant that he pointed a gun through a crack in the bedroom door and shot Campos three times in the head, according to the probable cause statement. The informant told police Nelson said he shot Campos because Kruckenberg was unable to do it, according to the probable cause statement.
Investigators allege Yardley helped cover up the crime by allowing the teens to use her vehicle to dispose of Campos’ body, according to another probable cause statement. Yardley also allegedly “cleaned blood from carpet and a wall in the room where the crime occurred,” and “removed mattresses and bedding from the scene.” Investigators obtained a receipt showing she bought a new mattress during the time frame in question, according to the documents from the sheriff’s office.
Grand County Attorney Andrew Fitzgerald last week declined to discuss the possible motive for the killing.
“We are looking into several possible motives at this point,” Fitzgerald said. “The investigation is still ongoing.”
Torgerson said during the April 15 court session he might need four or five months to study the case before a preliminary hearing is held, at which time the defendants would enter pleas.
“I understand there’s quite a bit of investigation ongoing at this point,” Torgerson said last week.
Russell advised Anderson that he will seek lower bail for his client, Kruckenberg.
“I’m sure I’m going to request a reduction,” he said. “There’s no way they’re going to get out on $250,000 cash.”
Morgan said she might file a motion to reduce Yardley’s bail, also.
The three defendants wore leg shackles and their wrists were handcuffed during their appearances.
Kruckenberg initially appeared to have difficulty understanding Anderson’s question about whether he wanted court-appointed legal representation. Kruckenberg said his father lives in Colorado and he’s not sure what he does for a living.
Nelson was equally vague about his father.
“I think he lives in California,” Nelson said. “I don’t talk to him that much.”
Times-Independent reporter Lisa J. Church contributed to this story.