The prosecution against Todd Newmiller finally revealed its theory of the crime in the closing argument. In summary, the prosecution claimed that Todd and the victim, Anthony Madril confronted each other and that Todd almost immediately stabbed Anthony in the heart. Todd then went on to have a non-violent confrontation with Anthony’s friend, Chisum Lopez. Anthony, according to the prosecution, then enthusiastically engaged another man, Brad Orgill, in a violent and bloody fight.
The prosecution’s incredulous scenario becomes even more incredulous when the details of the case emerge:
- None of the six witnesses at the scene ever saw Todd near Anthony.
- The prosecution agreed with the defense and all of the witnesses who reported that Anthony was in a fierce fight with Brad Orgill, and that Todd was not seen near this fight.
- None of Anthony’s blood stained Todd’s clothing.
- Brad Orgill’s clothes were coated with Anthony’s blood.
- The trail of blood that Anthony left behind came no closer than approximately thirty feet of Todd’s reported position.
- Anthony had defensive wounds on his hand, an indication that he was aware that he faced the threat of a knifing, yet Anthony made no comment about a knife being present at the confrontation as he entered into the fight with Orgill. Instead he yelled to his friends, “It’s on!”
- Chisum Lopez, whom Todd did confront, saw no knife in Todd’s hands.
- Anthony emerged from the fight with Orgill saying, “I’ve just been stabbed.”
So, what really happened the night Anthony Madril died? The police investigation can tell us a lot: Two carloads of young men stopped on Conrad Street, a darkened road in eastern Colorado Springs, the first vehicle a pickup truck, carried Anthony. He sat in the middle seat, between the driver, Chas Schwartz and his friend Chisum Lopez. They were angry from a dispute a few minutes earlier in the parking lot of a nearby club. The dispute had been primarily between Anthony and Brad Orgill. Both had been drinking heavily, as had the others. Anthony’s blood alcohol would later be reported to be half again the legal limit for driving. Brad would admit to having drunk considerably as well. Chas’s truck was waiting. Behind it a Jeep stopped. It held the five men they’d confronted earlier, Todd and Joel Newmiller, Mike Lee, Jason Melick, and Brad Orgill.
Chisum reported that he jumped out the passenger’s door of the pickup and was immediately confronted by a tall, blond man who has been identified as Todd. In videotaped interviews, Chisum says that they were eyeball-to-eyeball, staring each other down, fully concentrating on one another.
Meanwhile, Anthony also exited the truck behind Chisum. According to the driver of the pickup, Chas, Anthony announced prior to exiting that he had his knife and was ready to go. Anthony and Brad paired off. While the rest of the crowd remained on the passenger side of the pickup, Anthony and Brad wrestled each other to the other side of the darkened street, where they fought each other to the ground.
Although Chisum claims that no punches were thrown in his confrontation with Todd, when Chas called Chisum back inside the truck, Todd was bleeding from two nicks on the left side of his face. Chisum closed the truck’s door and locked it. Chas and Chisum reported that they heard the sound of the right rear tire being punctured. The truck moved forward, closer to where Anthony was fighting.
Chas drove across the street to Anthony, who emerged from the fight with Brad. Anthony was covered in blood. He made his way to the driver’s side door of the pickup and Chas pulled him inside, lifting him over to the center position. Anthony announced, “I just got stabbed.” The truck sped away, moving a few blocks towards Memorial Hospital before it stopped at the corner of Galley and Wooten, where Anthony expired.
Later on the 20th of November, Detectives appeared at home of the parents of Todd and Joel, seeking Joel. They said that there had been a minor tiff, nothing significant and they needed to speak with Joel. When Joel’s parents balked at their wanting to take Joel downtown for questioning, Sheriff’s investigator Brad Shannon phoned the Newmiller house and spoke to Gloria, Todd and Joel’s mother. He said that they needed to talk to Joel because he had been there when Brad stabbed a person who had died. He said that Todd was already at the sheriff’s office. Both Gloria and Bill, Todd and Joel’s father, understood the seriousness of the situation and urged their boys to seek legal representation before being interviewed by the investigators. It was an assertion of constitutional rights that the police did not take kindly to. Brad Shannon told them that insisting upon legal representation would cause investigators to see the boys as suspects rather than as witnesses.
Legal representation for Todd and Joel was obtained and both boys were released. At the time of his arrest, Todd wore the same leather jacked and pants he’d worn the previous night. They were retained for evidence. Joel was required to provide the clothing he had worn the previous night. The contents of Todd’s pockets were also retained, his cell phone, wallet, keys, and a folding knife that he carried. The length of the blade measured three and three quarters inches, a quarter inch longer than the law, unbeknownst to most people, allows one to carry in one’s pocket.
Also released was Brad Orgill, who had spoken to the investigators.
Later that evening, investigators spoke with Mike Lee. Lee did not know at that time that it had been Brad’s opponent who had died. He knew only that he had seen Todd’s knife after the confrontation. He had not seen it during the confrontation. The investigators withheld that they had recovered a three-inch plus knife from the truck Anthony had ridden in, a knife stained with blood.
Also unaware of who had died and unaware of the existence of another knife was Jason Melick. He knew simply that there had been a fight, a person had been stabbed, and that Todd had a knife. He called Crime Stoppers and announced that “The killer’s name is Todd.” In a later interview with investigators, Jason, who had admitted to starting the evening with twelve beers, said that Todd had stated that he’d stabbed someone. What exactly did Todd say in the car that night? It’s hard to know. How common are drunken misstatements and drunken misunderstandings? Mike and Brad say they never heard Todd say he stabbed anything. Todd’s brother, Joel says that Todd said I stabbed a tire, I stabbed one of them. Joel’s understanding of this statement was that the pronoun “them” referred to the tire. Both Joel and Jason understood Todd’s words as an attempt to calm Joel down, who was upset by the sight of blood on Todd’s face.
Meanwhile, Brad, who had fought with Anthony and who had been covered in blood—blood later identified as being Anthony’s—retained legal representation and reported for a second interview with investigators. By this point, however, the suspicions of the investigators had shifted from Brad to Todd. They asked Brad little about his fight with Anthony, about the blood on his clothing, or about his motivation in burning some of his bloody clothing. They did, however, latch onto Brad’s now “remembering” that Todd, on the morning after the confrontation, had said that he might have stabbed someone.
That was enough for the investigators. Todd was charged with second degree murder. Prosecutors would characterize the drunken recollection and Brad’s newly reported “day-after” memories as “confessions.” Brad and Mike were charged as accessories. Brad, in exchange for testimony against Todd, was given a deferred sentence and was thus placed beyond further prosecution. Brad’s deal was finalized even before all the physical evidence was sent to the state crime lab for analysis, and almost 10 months before Colorado Springs forensic analysts declared that Orgill could not be ruled out as Anthony’s assailant.
Local investigators examined Todd’s knife and clothing. They noted a fairly large blood stain on the collar of his leather jacket. Detective Richer examined Todd’s knife closely. He could detect no blood on it, but he did notice that it had debris on it, perhaps the kind of debris one would get on a knife that had punctured a tire.
Four months after Anthony died, the DA cut a deal with Brad Orgill, and he accepted a four-year deferred sentence in exchange for testimony against Todd. Prior to the offer, Todd’s attorney advised the prosecutor that the offer was premature because the physical evidence had yet to receive analysis and statements by the victim’s friends indicated that Orgill was the assailant.
Nine months after Anthony died, the only forensic analysis done by the state crime lab at that time revealed that the blood recovered from the scene, the vehicles, and the clothing was human blood. Of more significance, however, is their report that the punctured tire had no blood on it—significant because had Todd’s knife been the one that stabbed Anthony surely it would have been bloodied and would have transferred blood to the tire.
DNA testing was not reported until October, almost 11 months after Anthony’s death. And not all items were tested. For example, blood on the clothing that Todd had worn that night was not tested. A curious thing happened when Todd’s knife showed up at the crime lab: it no longer had the debris on it that Det Richer had described. But it now had a very thin deposit of blood in the area where the trademark appeared. It was the kind of blood deposit that would be consistent with secondary transfer. The amount of blood on Todd’s knife was less than the amount that appeared on Anthony’s knife. DNA analysis revealed that the knife contained DNA from Todd, from Anthony, and a small amount of mixed DNA that could have been from Todd and Brad, but not from anyone else in the group. So how did Anthony’s blood get on Todd’s knife? Clearly it doesn’t seem to have gotten onto the knife at the crime scene: if that were the case, one would expect the tire puncture to contain blood, or that Todd’s pockets, where he stored the knife, to contain blood, but his pockets, like the tire puncture had no blood stains. So how did the blood get on Todd’s knife? There are several possibilities. Todd could have transferred a bit of Anthony’s blood from Brad, through contact with him or his bloody clothing, or even from the jeep’s door handle, which had a stain on it. This is particularly likely because Todd spent the rest of the night at Brad’s house. Mike Lee’s clothing, for example, had stains from Anthony’s blood (Mike Lee sat next to Brad Orgill in the Jeep and also stayed at Brad’s house that night). Or was there evidence mishandling? In February, 2005, Det Nohr sent the physical evidence to the state crime lab. His cover letter listed the contents of the evidence shipment to include Todd’s knife. In May, the crime lab noticed that the knife wasn’t in their possession and called Det Nohr. He discovered that it was still in the local evidence room. The state crime lab employee who examined the knife told two different versions of what she saw on the knife when she first looked at it—one version at a hearing on February 27th, another version when she testified at trial the following week. In her first testimony, she reported that the knife didn’t have the debris on it that Richer had described. During the trial, she claimed that she and Richer had just used different wording to describe the same thing. During Todd’s appeal, the People’s attorney conceded responsibility for the loss of the debris.
One more interesting fact about DNA results: Remember how the state crime lab failed to perform DNA testing on the bloodstain on Todd’s jacket? In January, 2006, a private DNA lab retained by Todd did test the blood on Todd’s jacket. It contained only Todd’s DNA.
In January, 2006, almost 14 months after Anthony’s death and 10 months after Brad Orgill received his deal, Criminologist Jaff Saviano and Crime Scene Technician Kimberly Bjorndahl produced a bloodstain pattern analysis and crime scene reconstruction for the case, the first time such an analysis was conducted. They write in their concluding paragraph, “Based upon the bloodstain and other physical evidence, the analysts cannot say precisely who stabbed Mr. Madril, nor can either Mr. Newmiller or Mr. Orgill be ruled out as the assailant.” They point out that “there is no indication that Mr. Orgill possessed a knife during the incident.” However, during Todd’s trial, Brad testified that he had routinely carried knives on him, but he denied having carried a knife the night Anthony was stabbed. A search of Brad’s residence by investigators failed to locate any of these knives. He also admitted that on a previous occasion he’d voiced an intention to use a knife he carried should a fight break out in a bar he frequented.
After the trial, troubling details about Brad Orgill’s previous behavior emerged. Records from the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs described how his employment as a resident advisor was terminated after a female student accused him of sexual assault on a trip to Mexico. About five months after Brad’s deal was made, he was again accused of sexual assault by a nineteen-year-old woman.
The rape accusation threatened to damage Orgill's credibility, but the defense attorney's were not provided with any documentation of the accusation until after Todd's trial.
The accusation was resolved with a highly unusual collaboration between the investigating officer, Colorado Springs Police Detective David Krueger, Brad Orgill, and Orgill's attorney Bill Shoewe. As they gathered to carry out this mission, they discussed Shoewe's trip to Sturgis, South Dakota, and then made a pretext phone call to Orgill's accuser and got her to drop the charges against Orgill.
After Todd's conviction, the defense petitioned for any records regarding the rape accusation against Orgill. The prosecuting attorney in Todd's case denied any knowledge of this event (or of the previous sexual assault accusation that had cost Orgill his job at the University of Colorado Springs a few years earlier). The profession of ignorance by the DA's office is not consistent with the existence of documentation that committed the DA's office to pay for the rape examination at Memorial Hospital as well as the existence of a release form signed by the accuser authorizing release of the examination to the DA's office.
Orgill claims that the sexual encounter with the victim was consensual, though he admits to providing the nineteen-year-old woman with alcohol--a clear violation of his deferred-sentence agreement. The threat of losing his deferred sentence and facing prison time (likely 18 to 24 months) hung over his head when he testified for the prosecution at Todd's trial. The record below suggests how the prosecution was able to preserve Orgill's credibility after being accused of rape, by placing a pretext phone call to the accuser on August 18, 2005. Then by delaying any further action, they were able to keep pressure on their witness and preserve his testimony without having to release information about his rape accusation. Finally, after the conviction, when the defense raised concerns about Orgill's credibility, the DA's office proceeded with charges against Orgill's accuser. The nineteen-year-old woman whom Orgill had given alcohol and who'd accused Orgill of rape then became a perpetrator in the eyes of the District Attorney's Office.
- 7/19/2005 -- The rape accusation.
- 8/18/2005 -- A pretext phone call to the accuser, charges dropped.
- 3/16/2006 -- Todd is convicted at trial. Over the coming weeks his attorney's try to locate any record of the rape accusation. Their requests are ignored until they file a formal motion for the information.
- 4/25/2006--The young woman who'd accused Orgill of rape is arrested for false reporting of a crime.
- 5/08/2006--Summons and complaint against the young woman is filed. Arraignment is scheduled for 6/6/2006.
- 5-17-2006--Judge Gilbert Martinez signs a court order demanding the DA's Office provide any discovery documents related to an investigation of Orgill regarding sexual assault.
- 5-19-2006--The DA provides Todd's attorney with the discovery documents.
- 5-24-2006--Just prior to Todd's sentencing hearing Prosecutor Jeff Lindsey says, "we were never notified of this investigation. And I think the dates of the investigation are important for the record and for the Court to consider. The investigation began on July 19th, 2005 and was disposed or no filed by the police department [in] September of 2005. Well, Judge, that was the end of that case as far as the police department's concerned. The ticket for Ms. Alleged Victim was placed in the police department file. I have been told that she's been served, not by Detective Krueger but by another officer when she was picked up."
The timing of the DA's actions against Orgill's accuser is especially convenient: It kept pressure on Orgill until after the trial. Then when questions could be raised about the propriety of relying upon an alleged rapist, the DA demonized Orgill's accuser (the nineteen-year-old given alcohol and sex) and turned her into a perpetrator.
Meanwhile, Todd’s appeal to the Colorado Court of Appeals has been denied, and the Colorado Supreme Court has refused to review his case.