Trucker, Charged in Boy’s Death, Suddenly Vindicated When Drifter Confesses
DENVER (AP) _ A prosecutor dropped charges against a truck driver accused of slashing the throat of a 4-year-old boy after a hitchhiker who had been eliminated as a suspect suddenly confessed to the slaying.
Prosecutors filed a motion today to dismiss a first-degree murder charge brought just the previous day against Neil Schenk. The trucker was expected to be released from jail sometime today.
Schenk, of Horseshoe Bend, Idaho, was accused in the Jan. 8 slaying of Tyson Blasing, his girlfriend’s son. Tyson was killed as he slept in the cab of Schenk’s tractor-trailer rig while it was parked at a Denver truck stop.
The hitchhiker traveling with them, Alfredo Diaz-Vega, a Mexican national, had been held along with Schenk since the day of the murder. He was released Tuesday when Schenk was charged. Then, during routine questioning at the Immigration and Naturalization Service office, Diaz-Vega admitted killing Tyson.
``We went over there just to talk to him as a witness,″ said police Capt. Tim Cuthriell. ``He no longer was a suspect. ... During the discussion, he breaks down and confesses to the murder.″
The boy’s mother, Candy Bahr, had given permission for Schenk to take the boy on the road, and he and the boy were traveling for several days before he picked up Diaz-Vega, 26, in New Mexico.
District Attorney Bill Ritter said Schenk’s arrest was a mistake that resulted from information available to his office at the time.
Schenk’s attorney, Jim Castle, called the charges against his client ``an honest mistake″ and but noted his client could have faced the death penalty.
``The other guy confessed,″ Castle said. Otherwise, ``he would have been out of the country in 24 hours and my client, if he was convicted, would have been looking at life imprisonment at the minimum and death at the maximum.
``To me, this is the reason there should be no death penalty. I can’t think of a better example,″ Castle said.
Schenk passionately denied killing the boy immediately after he was taken into custody for questioning.