Todd Newmiller

El Paso County, Colorado
Date of Alleged Crime:  November 20, 2004

Todd Newmiller was convicted of murdering 22-year-old Anthony Madril.  On the night of Madril's death a dispute arose between two groups of young men at a Colorado Springs nightclub.  The club management forced one group to leave while the other left shortly thereafter.  Two vehicles carrying these men subsequently stopped a short distance away on Conrad St. near Terminal Ave.  The first vehicle, a pickup truck, was driven by Charles Schwartz, with Chisum Lopez on the passenger side and Anthony Madril in the middle.  The second vehicle, a Jeep, contained Todd Newmiller, his brother Joel, Mike Lee, Jason Melick, and Brad Orgill.  The dispute had primarily been between Madril and Orgill.

Lopez reported that when he exited the passenger side of the pickup he was confronted by Newmiller.  Madril exited the truck behind Lopez.  According to Schwartz, Madril announced prior to exiting that he had a knife and was ready to go.  Madril and Orgill paired off and eventually wrestled each other to the ground some distance ahead of the truck on the opposite side of the street.  The others remained on the passenger side of the truck.

At some point Schwartz called Lopez to get back in the truck.  Lopez did so and locked the door.  Lopez claimed that no punches were thrown in his confrontation with Newmiller, but Newmiller was bleeding from two nicks on the left side of his face.  Both Schwartz and Lopez reported they heard the sound of their right rear tire being punctured.  Schwartz drove the truck across the street where Madril emerged from his fight with Orgill, covered in blood, and made his way to the driver's side door.  Schwartz pulled Madril inside, lifting him over himself to the center seat.  Madril announced, “I just got stabbed.”  The truck sped away toward Memorial Hospital, but following a 911 cell phone call, it stopped to wait for paramedics.  When paramedics arrived there was little they could do for Madril as his heart had been punctured.  They took him to Memorial Hospital where he was dead on arrival.

During the police investigation following Madril's death, Orgill claimed not to have had a knife when he fought Madril.  Newmiller turned over to police clothes he was wearing and a knife he was carrying on the night of the conflict.  The knife had what looked like tire debris on it indicating Newmiller used it to puncture the tire of Schwartz's truck.  Newmiller confirmed stabbing the tire.  Police and prosecutors decided to charge Newmiller with Madril's murder because they could claim his knife was used to murder Madril.  If they instead charged Orgill, they would have a problem in proving that Orgill had a knife.  They would also have a problem in proving that Orgill killed Madril with intent rather than in self-defense as Madril was clearly pummeling Orgill.  Thirdly, Orgill was willing to testify against Newmiller.

In charging Newmiller, prosecutors had to assert a highly implausible crime theory.  According to their theory, Madril struck Newmiller when he exited the truck behind Lopez causing the cuts on his face.  Newmiller then stabbed Madril.  However, neither Lopez, nor any other witness had seen any interaction between Newmiller and Madril.  None of Madril's blood was found on Newmiller's clothes or on the truck tire which was punctured with the knife after it allegedly entered Madril.

Madril had defensive knife wounds on his hand so he presumably intercepted the knife that killed him with his hand before being stabbed.  Despite being stabbed with a fatal heart wound, Madril did not continue to fight Newmiller but engaged in a fierce struggle with Orgill, which Madril appeared to be winning.  It was only after his struggle with Orgill that Madril returned to the truck and according to Schwartz said, “I just got stabbed.”  Since Madril did not qualify his statement, he indicated he was stabbed during his fight with Orgill.

Orgill admitted he regularly carried a knife, but denied he carried a knife on that particular night.  Had he been carrying a knife, he had several hours to dispose of it.  Newmiller also had time to dispose of his knife.  He did not appear to be aware that Madril had been seriously injured.  There was a path of blood drops on the street that the prosecution argued had come from Madril after Newmiller stabbed him, but these could have come from Madril after Orgill wounded him on the bridge of his nose.  A crime scene map shows the path begins too far away from the truck to lend much support to the prosecution's argument.

In exchange for a plea agreement, Melick testified that after Newmiller got back into the Jeep following his confrontation with Lopez, he said, “I stabbed the guy, okay?”  But Lee and Orgill who were sitting with Melick in the rear seat of the Jeep at the time, denied hearing Newmiller make that statement.  Newmiller's brother, Joel, testified his brother said, “I slashed their tire and I stabbed one of them.”  Joel was required to make that statement as part of his plea agreement.  He has since recanted that testimony, saying, “I don't remember Todd saying he stabbed a human being.”

After police seized Newmiller's knife, it was examined by Detective Richer.  He found black debris on the knife and that some of the debris appeared to be from a liquid state, but he was unable to identify any of the material on the knife as blood.  The knife was photographed and a black substance is clearly visible on the blade.  The knife, along with 45 other items was sent to the Colorado Bureau of Investigation (CBI) crime lab for testing, but the knife was never received and was the only item missing.  Later the knife was found and sent to CBI.  There was no tire debris or black substance on the knife.  However, CBI found trace evidence of Madril's blood on the knife.

The trial judge allowed this knife into evidence even though the chain of custody for it had been broken and it had clearly been tampered with.  Police planting of Madril's blood on the knife would explain why the knife was wiped clean, as blood planted on top of the tire debris would indicate Madril had been stabbed with the knife after it was used to puncture the truck tire.  Such a result would contradict witness testimony.  [8/09]

References:  Case Summary, Appeal

Posted in:  Victims of the State, Colorado Cases