Trial of murder suspect Tanner Flores continues in Fort Collins
By Amber McIver-Traywick
The trial of Tanner Flores, the Berthoud teen accused of killing his ex-girlfriend Ashley Doolittle in June of 2016, continued Wednesday at the Larimer County Justice Center in Fort Collins.
Samantha White’s home sits beside the property that Flores drove to after allegedly shooting Doolittle three times in the head near Carter Lake in Larimer County. The property belonged to Flores’ deceased great-grandfather and is located in Collbran, Colo. in Mesa County, a small community 40 miles east of Grand Junction. Flores’ grandmother contacted White in an attempt to find her grandson who had been missing since the previous day. When White confirmed Flores’ truck was parked at the house Flores’ family contacted the authorities. White who was then contacted by law enforcement testified to watching Flores through binoculars from her living room and became emotional when recounting seeing Flores carry Doolittle’s blanket wrapped body out of the house and throw her into the backseat of his truck.
Michael Blanck a Colorado Parks and Wildlife district wildlife manager, who among other duties aides law enforcement throughout Mesa County, testified to setting up surveillance on the deck of White’s residence and watched through a rifle scope as Flores come in and out of the residence multiple times throwing two objects out into a field prior to moving her body.
Edward Blanck, who happens to be Michael’s brother, is a Mesa County Sheriff’s Office investigator and was the lead crime scene tech. Blanck explained that after the SWAT team arrived at the property Flores was addressed over a PA system and told to exit the house to which he complied and was taken into custody.
Blanck then lead a team in collecting evidence including the pistol that was found under the back seat of the truck and took photographs of the scene. Several of the photos, some graphically showing the injuries Doolittle suffered and pieces of evidence, including the clothing Doolittle was found wearing, were exhibited, leading to several in attendance to quietly shed tears.
Multiple individuals were called to the stand to testify throughout the day which included friends and acquaintances of Doolittle and Flores who all said their relationship had been tumultuous and on-again-off-again.
Larimer County Sheriff’s office digital forensics investigator Aaron Horowitz offered details of the cell phone contact between Doolittle and Flores in the days leading up to and the day of the murder. In the text messages, obtained from data stored by Verizon as neither Flores’ nor Doolittle’s phones were ever recovered, Flores seemed to alternate between accusing Doolittle of cheating on him, wanting to remain friends and comments like, “I love you so much I’d be with you until the end,” and “I can never love anyone again.” There were also multiple messages from Flores asking to meet up with Doolittle to which she eventually agreed. The afternoon of June 9 the day the two were planning on meeting Doolittle’s phone went off the network around 4:30 p.m. and never came back on.
Tanner Flores’ father Sean Flores took the stand answering questions about his collection of firearms including the .22 caliber pistol found in the back of Tanner Flores truck, the alleged murder weapon. He said his son had access to the firearms, which normally were kept in a gun safe, at any time and did not have to ask permission to use them. The pistol had been left out of the safe for over a month according to Sean Flores. He was asked several questions about his son and described him as, “…very quiet, he’s always quiet.” About his son’s relationship with Doolittle he said, “I didn’t feel it was a good relationship.” He also explained that although his son had dropped out of school during his Junior year that he had been working for the family’s trucking business and was about to be offered a job as a farm hand.
Flores’ grandmother Suzanne White was sworn in but minutes after taking the stand experienced a medical emergency and was taken to a nearby hospital via ambulance. The jury was quickly escorted from the courtroom and everyone in attendance was asked to exit while EMT’s aided Ms. White.
The District Attorney stated they would not be seeking the death penalty. Flores is charged with 2 counts of first-degree murder and felony kidnapping charges that could result in a life sentence. The defense are not denying Flores killed Doolittle but they are attempting to prove Flores’ actions do not merit the first-degree murder charges which could result in a shorter sentence.
The trial is slated to continue through next week
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