CENTENNIAL, Colo. (CBS4) – The man accused of shooting a 29-year-old man to death in a state park was escorted out of court Thursday after making faces at the victim’s father.
Jackson Chavez was shot to death last weekend at a cookout at Cherry Creek State Park. Joseph Washington, 29, was arrested afterwards and is facing first-degree murder charges. He made his second appearance in Arapahoe County Court on Thursday.
During his hearing, Washington began grinning and making faces at Jesse Chavez. That prompted Jesse and Chavez’s other family members to hurry out of the courtroom. Several were visibly upset and they exchanged hugs and held hands as they left the building.
After Washington’s initial appearance in court on Tuesday, Jesse Chavez told CBS4’s Tom Mustin that it had been difficult to come face to face with his son’s accused killer. On Thursday, that courtroom tension almost led to an altercation.
At one point, the Chavez family had to put their hands on Jesse’s shoulders to prevent him from jumping up.
A sheriff’s deputy intervened and yelled at Washington to stop looking at the family.
Washington was argumentative as he replied, “I was just looking around the room!” and told deputies Jesse Chavez was making a throat slitting gesture toward him. That’s when he was escorted out of the courtroom. He returned crying soon afterwards.
“To see that this man had no remorse, no regret, could mock me in the court and try to get a reaction out of me, was just unforgivable,” said Jesse Chavez.
“He was giving me the look around and giving me the smile, he was nodding his head back and forth and jocking me real hard and it was unbearable to the point I had to give him a gesture. At that point he went irate and court had him removed.”
“Today in court was the most difficult thing I’ve gone through. I’m confident the court saw that this person was sick in his actions and that he lacked remorse,” said Jackson’s sister Taylor Chavez.
“I was just sickened. I mean this guy lacked so much remorse it was crazy,” said Jackson’s brother Samuel Chavez.
The Chavez family did not return to court after leaving the building.
Court documents remain sealed in the case so the circumstances of the shooting remain unclear.
Investigators say they are still working on lineups, and they haven’t released a mugshot for Washington.
Washington remains in custody with no bond. His next court appearance is set for October.
The family wants to remember Jackson the way he was.
“My brother was an amazing person, he loved animals so much,” said Samuel Chavez. “He was just such a kind person he just opened his heart to everyone… such a big heart you don’t know how it fit inside of him.”
“He was such an athlete, he could climb window sills, doors, he was like a monkey. He went to the top of a cliff and hung just for that picture,” said Taylor Chavez.
The Chavez family has set up a GoFundMe page for funeral costs.
Jamie Leary joined the CBS4 team in 2015. She is currently a reporter for CBS4 This Morning, which means she is always on the go, covering a wide variety of breaking local news and important local events. Connect with her on Facebook or Twitter @JamieALeary.