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Teen's death sparked grand jury probe
[December 15, 2007]

Teen's death sparked grand jury probe


(Pueblo Chieftain, The (CO) (KRT) Via Thomson Dialog NewsEdge) Dec. 15--Police confirmed Friday that a grand jury indictment of 10 adults and six juveniles originated with an investigation into the overdose death of a South High School student in September.



Deputy Chief John Ercul of the Pueblo Police Department said the investigation that resulted in the indictments started when 17-year-old Corey Suazo died in September of a drug overdose.

According to the indictment, which was unsealed by a court order on Friday, the suspects are accused of distributing a variety of drugs including cocaine, ecstasy, oxycodone, hydrocodone, morphine sulfate and marijuana.


District Attorney Bill Thiebaut declined to comment about the connection between Suazo's death and the indictment.

"That whole situation involves an investigation that is continuing," Thiebaut said. "There's a lot still going on as it relates to (Corey Suazo's) death. There's an ongoing effort that may answer some of these questions in the weeks to come."

According to the indictment, the charges that were handed down stem from alleged illegal acts perpetrated in the weeks following Suazo's death.

Since Dec. 7, police have been executing arrest warrants stemming from the indictment. On that date, arrests were made at South High School and a handful of private residences.

In the week that has passed since the indictment came down, police have caught all but one of the suspects, 19-year-old Vince Jesus Diaz, a resident of eastern Pueblo County. Anyone with information about where to find him can report it to police by calling 911. To remain anonymous, call CrimeStoppers at 542-7867.

The indicted adults are: Jeremy Lee Ruybalid, 19; Stephen Andrew Alvarado, 19; Matthew Willis Ericson, 19; John Foos, 19; Jayson Cody Loberg, 20; Isaac Conder, 20; Matt Day, 29; Tyler Ray Emery, 18; Joe Butkovich, 21; and Diaz. Each of the adults faces up to 32 years in prison if convicted.

The names of the juveniles indicted by the grand jury were not released, in accordance with Colorado law. The six juveniles charged in the case each face possible two-year terms in the Colorado Division of Youth Correction if convicted.

All but one of the juveniles indicted by the grand jury attend South High School. The other indicted juvenile attends Central High School.

"We know that the problem is still there," Ercul said. "To what extent, we don't know. But we're going to stay after it not just at that school (South High), but communitywide."

Ercul said it is not suspected that the indicted parties were part of a large drug ring operating collectively.

Thiebaut said rampant drug use among teens has been brought to the attention of his office as one of the community's chief concerns.

"The message has to get out that the young people taking part in these activities have their whole lives to look forward to," Thiebaut said. "Drugs can snatch that away from them."

Corey Suazo's mother, Josette Suazo, said only one of the indicted adults, Foos, was familiar to her as a friend of her son.

Corey Suazo also had been listed as a witness against three former Pueblo City Schools employees who were charged with crimes for allegedly hosting alcohol parties for teens.

Former South High English teacher Amanda Tilley, 35; former South High security guard Buddy Borjon, 24; and former Corwin Middle School teacher Daniel Zufall, 25, each were charged with crimes stemming from an alleged series of parties last spring at Tilley's home. Students allegedly were supplied alcohol, and one student was arrested for driving under the influence after one of the suspected parties.

Borjon pleaded guilty to reduced charges and was sentenced to probation. He's back in jail this week after allegedly missing curfew while on house arrest. Tilley is due to appear in court Monday, and has a trial date set next month. Zufall pleaded guilty to reduced charges and received a deferred sentence.

No evidence has surfaced that any of the three adults from that investigation were present when Corey Suazo took the lethal dose of drugs, but his mother is still frustrated with them for condoning the lifestyle that ultimately led to her son's demise.

"I would talk to Amanda and Buddy and they'd reassure me that they were watching out for my son, making sure he wasn't doing anything he shouldn't be," said Josette Suazo. "It turned out all the while they were supplying my son with alcohol. I trusted them, and they betrayed that trust. I'm not blaming them for my son's death, but this all started with the partying these adults at South High School encouraged."

Josette Suazo said she's hopeful that the continuing investigation will shed light on the night her son overdosed. At this point, she said she's grateful that something is being done to tackle the drug problem that's swallowing Pueblo's teens.

"I've gone through hell. I don't wish this on anybody else," she said. "It's really been hard for me. My son is gone, regardless of the outcome. But if this can save even one student and one parent from going through what I've been through, then the police, the district attorney and everyone else has done their jobs."

To see more of The Pueblo Chieftain, or to subscribe to the newspaper, go to http://www.chieftain.com.

Copyright (c) 2007, The Pueblo Chieftain, Colo.
Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.
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