Colorado Springs man strikes plea deal in killings of Coronado High School students

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A Colorado Springs man who previously faced the death penalty in the 2017 execution-style shootings of two Coronado High School students has pleaded guilty to two counts of conspiracy to commit second-degree murder. 

Prosecutors believed Marco Garcia-Bravo, 24, was one of two shooters in the gang plot that led to the killings of Natalie Cano-Partida, 16, and Derek Greer, 15. He was scheduled to go to trial for a second time later this month. 

Instead, Garcia-Bravo will be sentenced on Monday to 30 years in prison, a source with knowledge of the plea bargain said.

The plea agreement follows a four-month jury trial that ended when jurors were unable to reach a unanimous verdict on several counts. The jury found him guilty of a single count of accessory to murder, the lowest charge he faced. On seven other counts, jurors split 11-1 in favor of acquittal. 

The jury later complained that prosecutors had wasted their time. 

The plea deal was reached late Thursday after a closed hearing earlier in the day overseen by Fourth Judicial District Judge David Shakes, and acknowledges Garcia-Bravo was involved in a murder conspiracy from Feb. 27, 2017, to March 12, 2017. It is still unclear what role specifically he admitted to in the plot. A conspiracy charge in a murder case alleges that a defendant plotted with at least one other person to commit murder and took a substantial step toward carrying out the plan, but it does not require a killing to occur, said Phil Dubois, a Colorado Springs attorney. 

Garcia-Bravo will face a far lesser sentence than his co-conspirator and convicted shooter Diego Chacon, who pleaded guilty in December 2018 to two counts of second-degree murder. He was sentenced to 65 years in prison under terms of his plea deal.

The development comes as a prosecutor in the case, Michael Fisher, is about to leave the Fourth Judicial District Attorney’s Office. Fisher’s last day will be April 16, a spokesman for the 4th Judicial District of Colorado said. 

Garcia-Bravo is the last of 10 people to be prosecuted in the killings. 

The Gazette’s Lance Benzel contributed to this story.