COLORADO SPRINGS — Surveillance videos shown in court Tuesday at a hearing for Charles Valentino Lobato, 31, accused of killing a Colorado Springs man Jan. 7, indicate road rage may have been a motive.
The dead man, Shawnee Tapia, had to swerve his vehicle to avoid hitting a Toyota Corolla driven by Lobato outside a taco stand. When Tapia continued to a nearby liquor store, Lobato followed and pulled up behind him, police say.
A camera outside the liquor store captured a brief encounter between the men outside their cars, ending with Tapia staggering away and collapsing.
The videos suggest a possible motive in the killing, which spawned a nine-month manhunt for Lobato. He also is accused of shooting at law enforcement officers in Costilla County last April as he eluded arrest.
Lobato was arrested in late September after detectives tracked his girlfriend’s cell phone to a Motel 6 in Castle Rock, police say. The woman, Mercedes Garcia, and her two children were in the room with Lobato when he was taken into custody.
Police say they learned Lobato’s name after asking the public to help identify a still frame of their suspect. A Costilla County sheriff’s deputy said he recognized the man as a two-year inmate in Costilla County who was released in October 2017.
Court-appointed attorneys for Lobato suggested he fired in self-defense, citing a folding knife found on the ground next to the dead man and evidence that Tapia was known to carry a knife.
Lobato has a long criminal history spanning El Paso, Costilla and Adams counties, including convictions for criminal mischief, driving under the influence and having sexual contact with a minor without consent, for which he is required to register as a sex offender.
A judge will rule in mid December whether there is evidence to bind Lobato over for trial.