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A Colorado man who was allegedly in an open relationship with his girlfriend has been convicted of murdering a man that he caught in bed with his partner.
Andrew J. Firkins Jr., 47, was found guilty of first-degree murder this week in El Paso County Court and received a mandatory sentence of life in prison without the chance of parole, the Fourth Judicial District Attorney’s Office said Tuesday. Firkins was accused of having shot and killed 37-year-old Nicholas James Laduke during an altercation on March 12.
The killing allegedly stemmed from a love triangle involving Firkins, Laduke, and Firkin’s girlfriend, Shelby Stallwood, the Colorado Springs Gazette reports. Prior to Laduke’s slaying, all three individuals had drinks together at a Colorado Springs restaurant and, after Firkins agreed to let Laduke stay at his and Stallwood’s apartment for a few days due to an oncoming snowstorm, the trio traveled together back to the home, prosecutors said. Firkins and Stallwood went to sleep together that night in their own room, but when Firkins woke up, Stallwood was no longer there; Firkins found her in bed with Laduke in the guest room, and killed Laduke in what prosecutors claimed was a fit of jealousy.
Stallwood told police that she heard gunshots and then saw Firkins standing over Laduke’s body, local outlet KRDO reports. When authorities arrived, they took Firkins into custody.
Firkins’ lawyers claimed during the trial that Laduke struck first, and argued that Firkin finding his girlfriend in bed with someone else was a “highly provoking act,” according to the Gazette. Additionally, although Firkin and Stallwood were in an open relationship, the defense claimed that the couple had an agreement in place to not have sexual encounters in the home that they shared. Prosecutors argued that no such agreement existed, however, the site reports.
“A home is somewhere you should feel safe and secure,” Kelly McCullough, a public defender for Firkins, said during closing arguments.
The trial took seven days, and the jury took around three hours to reach their verdict, according to the Gazette. Judge Marla Prudek then sentenced Firkins within minutes of the verdict being read.
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