Do Tell

Notorious Denver informant Mark Tibbs has finked his way through a lot of cases. But can he talk his way out of this one?

On the evening of October 30, 1996, Givens was shot to death and tossed out of a car in the 2700 block of Madison Street. Although investigators have said they're unsure if his murder was related to his role in Domena's conviction, his family is convinced that gang members killed him. As of last week, no charges had been filed in the case.

Tibbs was in the Denver County Jail the day Givens was killed, serving time after racking up a variety of charges in Denver and Arapahoe counties. By the fall of 1996, his dance card was so full--he was named in numerous arrest warrants, one of which charged him with being a habitual traffic offender--that any new criminal violation was almost certain to get him locked up. It came on October 22, eight days before Givens was killed, when Tibbs was arrested in Denver and charged with car theft. (Tibbs has a bill of sale for the car, a junked 1980 Buick Regal, says attorney Richard Korecki, who's assisting him in the case, "but I don't know how valid it is.") The cops apparently were out of excuses. Tibbs was hauled off to jail.

Jail is an unfriendly place for people like Tibbs. On October 28, he says, he was sitting in the tank, ready to be taken to court for an appearance, when he was approached by five Crips angry about his testimony against Domena. "They said, 'You took our homie's life, and when we get back, we're going to kill you,'" he says. "I wasn't too worried about it at the time, but the officer snatched me out of there, and they placed me in protective custody." Tibbs was still in the hole three days later when a deputy told him that Givens had been killed.

"I got a little shaken up then," he admits.
Tibbs knew he was going to need a lot of help to get out of the mess he'd gotten himself into. Luckily, he says, he hadn't cut his ties to Deputy District Attorney Tim Twining, who had prosecuted the Domena case.

Tibbs claims that Twining agreed to help him out of his latest predicament. The deputy DA, Tibbs says, promised to get him probation for his traffic cases in Arapahoe County and worked out a deal under which Tibbs would spend a maximum of ninety days in jail for three pending Denver cases, which included two DUIs and a charge for driving while his license was revoked. In addition, says Tibbs defense attorney Duncan Bradley, the ninety days were to run concurrently with a 175-day sentence Tibbs had received for yet another misdemeanor charge.

Twining, however, denies that he has had any recent dealings with Tibbs. "My involvement with him ended about a year ago," he says. "I have not assisted him since. I have no idea what he's in jail for now, though it's not surprising to me that he's back." Twining adds that he has told Tibbs "repeatedly" that his testimony against Domena "is not a 'Get Out of Jail' card."

Tibbs says he was expecting an easy ride when he entered his plea on the Denver traffic offenses in November. Afterward, he was returned to the Denver County Jail to await sentencing--and placed in a cell next to Jon Morris.

"I been knowing Jon about twenty years," says Tibbs--the two of them used to hang out at the same crackhouses. But Tibbs claims he didn't know why Morris was in jail, even though Morris's arrest in the Ashley Gray case had been front-page news.

Morris, a friend of the Gray family, took the little girl from her Denver home on August 10, 1995, promising to buy her some candy. Her body was found the following morning in a dumpster. In an interview with Denver police, Morris claimed that he remembered Ashley lying at his feet and remembered putting her in the trash bin. Beyond that, he said, he had little recollection of the crime.

After his arrest, Morris was implicated in the deaths of two women who had been killed in northeast Denver earlier that same year. Police say he is the prime suspect in the February 1995 death of prostitute Susan Boston, who was found with her throat slit. He is also a suspect in the August 5 death of transient Norma Fisher, whose body was discovered in the backseat of a burning car near 33rd Avenue and Josephine Street.

Late one night in the jail, Tibbs says, "Jon starts talking to me. We had just gotten done watching a movie. Will Smith. Independence Day. And he knocked on the wall and called my name. He said, 'Chico. Let me talk to you.'

"It was like around December 1," continues Tibbs. "Right after Thanksgiving. He was pretty low. The first thing he said was, 'I hope they give me the death penalty and get it over soon.' I had no idea what he was in for. I said, 'Whassup?'

"He said he was in for killing that little girl on Blake Street. He said, 'I did that.' I said, 'Why?' He said, 'I didn't mean to kill her.' He said, 'I had to get my freak on. I couldn't help it.'" [Tibbs says that "to get a freak on" means to have sex while on drugs.]

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