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Candelario murder trial starts

by Eric Mullens

Las Animas County Courthouse

TRINIDAD — It has been just over two years since, on a cold, dry winter day in Walsenburg, local businessman Ralph Candelario was found injured on the sidewalk outside of the home he shared with his wife Pamela. Pamela would be found inside of the home, in her own kitchen, dead in a pool of blood. Walsenburg police came to the home in the 300 block of W. Third shortly after 7 am on January 16, 2014. Before the day was over, Colorado Bureau of Investigation agents would have the home surrounded by crime scene tape as they gathered evidence at what was then known to be a murder scene. Ralph Candelario would be taken to SPRHC, then transported to Parkview Hospital in Pueblo, for what was then believed to be a serious head wound, however, he would be released later in the day and would undergo questioning by both Walsenburg and state authorities. Nine months of investigation would continue until the CBI prepared a first degree murder warrant for Candelario.

He was arrested Tuesday, October 7, 2014 in Humboldt County, California without incident. He has remained in custody ever since. Candelario’s trial begins this week in Trinidad, Colorado. Early in the week jury selection began in the largest city in the Third Judicial District. The case has drawn national media attention, with NBC’s crime magazine program DATELINE covering the trial. Senior District Judge Claude Appel ruled the program can video and audio record opening and closing presentations by attorneys, the verdict, and sentencing, if there is a conviction. Candelario himself caused a sensation when he penned an account of what he says happened at his home which ran exclusively in the World Journal on January 30th and February 6, 2014. He said he and his wife were victims of home invaders who killed Pam and assaulted Ralph. The fact Ralph’s former wife, Dena Candelario went missing from her Pueblo, Colorado home in August 2004, also raised the interest of national television producers. Nothing has been heard from her since her disappearance. That remains an open missing persons case, and it may not be a fact presented to the Las Animas County jury over the next two weeks.

Defense attorneys will stand behind their client’s version of what happened and may present evidence from witnesses who say they were aware of a home invasion. Prosecutors will contend the defendant murdered his wife and then staged their home to look like it was the location of a violent home invasion. Candelario is charged with first degree murder and tampering with evidence. He is being housed in Trinidad for the duration of the trial in lieu of a $1,000,000 bond imposed since his California arrest.

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