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Trial in north Boulder trailer park murder case set to begin

Scott Jones charged with first-degree murder after deliberation in death of wife Deborah De Pinto

Scott Jones appears in Boulder District Court with his attorney on Monday morning. He was charged with first-degree murder in the death of his wife, Deborah De Pinto.
Scott Jones appears in Boulder District Court with his attorney on Monday morning. He was charged with first-degree murder in the death of his wife, Deborah De Pinto.
Zak Wood
Deborah De Pinto

Editor’s note: This story has been updated to correct Scott Jones’ age. He is 49.

A man accused of strangling his wife at a north Boulder trailer park will stand trial starting today on two charges, including murder.

Scott Jones, 49, is charged with first-degree murder in the death of Deborah De Pinto, 44, who was found unresponsive in the office of the Ponderosa Mobile Home Park at 4475 N. Broadway on the night of June 18, 2018.

She was taken to a hospital, where she was pronounced dead.

Jones is set to stand trial beginning Monday on the murder count and one misdemeanor count of child abuse. The trial is scheduled for eight days.

First-degree murder is a Class 1 felony that would carry an automatic sentence of life in prison without parole.

According to an affidavit, deputies found surveillance footage that showed Jones and De Pinto entering the trailer park office while arguing and gesturing angrily. The two are seen moving off camera into the laundry room, but detectives noted that audio of the argument was still recorded by the camera and that the two were arguing about their marriage.

According to the affidavit, about 20 seconds later the camera picked up a female screaming along with the sounds of a physical struggle. Detectives wrote that thumping sounds could be heard, but they eventually grew weaker until they stopped.

Several people recalled Jones telling them as recently as a week before the incident that Jones wanted to strangle De Pinto, with whom Jones had two children.

While there was also some question of her enlarged heart and weight being contributing factors in her death, discussion of the case between attorneys at a preliminary hearing in the case centered primarily around whether prosecutors could prove first-degree murder beyond a reasonable doubt

Craig Silverman, a Denver defense attorney and former prosecutor, said the state will have to prove deliberation in order to get a conviction on first-degree murder.

“It’s the most serious crime there is in Colorado,” Silverman said. “It is often difficult to try, especially when you factor in that the prosecution needs to prove it beyond a reasonable doubt.”

Silverman said prosecutors will have to prove “not only intent, but that the decision to commit the act was made after the exercise of reflection and judgement.”

“The fact that the couple was fighting, which led to physicality, could lead to a verdict that this was less than first-degree murder,” Silverman said. “At the same time, it appears the prosecution has evidence that this defendant was talking about strangling that victim in the days prior, and if that is believed by the jury, it could be just what the prosecution needs to prove first-degree murder.”

Silverman also noted the way Jones allegedly murdered De Pinto could play a significant factor in the case.

“The judge picked up on this at preliminary hearing, the fact that strangling someone takes time,” Silverman said. “A shooting can take a fraction of a second, but that’s not the way this victim was killed.”

Silverman said as a prosecutor, he used to invoke a yellow stop light as an analogy during jury questions to explain the concept of reflection and judgement.

“Do you go through it or do you stop?” Silverman said. “Most people will tell you it depends on the circumstance. ‘How close am I to the light? How fast am I going? Is there someone right behind me?’ Then people make a decision. One could argue that before you make that decision, you exercise some reflection and judgement, even though it only takes a second or two.

“Of course, as a defense attorney you would argue that’s way too fast. But nothing in the law puts a precise amount of time on it. It just requires the exercise of reflection and judgement, and that the decision should not be hasty or impulsive.”