GW Alumnus Kirk R. Palmer was charged with first-degree murder by Boulder, Colo. Police Thursday in the death of an Angolian immigrant who once worked for him. Palmer, who graduated with a master’s degree in business administration from GW in May 2001, could face the death penalty if convicted.
Palmer, 25, is suspected of shooting and killing Antonio Vieira in the early morning July 26, after an argument during which Palmer accused him of sleeping with his girlfriend, according to the Boulder Daily Camera. He also faces first-degree burglary charges.
Vieira, 25, an emerging hip-hop artist, worked in Palmer’s Grassroots Hemp store for three weeks before he quit in early July, the Camera reported.
The GW graduate is being held on $2 million bond because he poses a significant flight risk, said Boulder Police Sgt. Kurt Weiler.
Police detained and arrested Palmer July 27 at a Canadian border crossing in Montana, trying to escape north with his girlfriend in a pickup truck full of personal belongings, the Camera reported. No charges have been filed against Palmer’s girlfriend, Weiler said
Montana police held Palmer until Aug. 7, when he was flown to a Boulder jail.
Boulder Police contacted the GW University Police Department for a
picture of Palmer, Weiler said. School of Business and Public Management and UPD officials were unavailable for comment.
Registrar’s office officials said Palmer was registered as a student from August 1999 to May 2001.
Weiler said he attributes Palmer’s quick arrest to local media coverage of a nationwide warrant for his arrest and coordination between state and national law enforcement agencies.
A preliminary hearing to present evidence in the case is set for Oct. 10, Weiler said. Prosecutors said last week they are considering seeking the death penalty.
Since Colorado reinstated the death penalty in 1979, it has sentenced 10 individuals to death but only executed one convict.
Colorado law states that prosecutors must prove whether a murder meets at least one of 15 aggravating factors to pursue capital punishment. One of the aggravating factors includes whether the murder was committed in “an especially heinous, cruel or depraved manner.”
Vieira, who left behind a wife of one year, grew up in war-torn Angola and moved to the United States last year. Friends said Vieira had a great personality and was a talented musician, the Camera stated.
“It’s just a shame . he’d survived so much,” his wife Jennie Vieira told the Camera.