How a Gopher Hole Changed Everything for Ex-Murder Suspect Jeremiah Hooker

Update: Jeremiah Hooker, 28, was arrested on suspicion of second-degree murder last year; our original coverage is incorporated into this post. Now, however, he has been convicted of a much less serious charge: tampering with evidence. Prosecutors say he was guilty only of trying to hide a gun in a gopher hole after what is now believed to have been a tragic accident among friends.

From the beginning, Hooker was an unusual homicide suspect.

As we've reported, a previous Hooker Facebook page (it's now been replaced) was larded with items about faith.

Included among his gallery's images were graphics highlighting biblical verses.... well as pics of similarly themed tattoos.

Most notable was this shot of a tat that announced, "Only God Can Judge Me."

These words stood out following the events of April 30, 2016.

At approximately 10:12 p.m. that day, according to the Thornton Police Department, officers were dispatched to the emergency room of the North Suburban Medical Center.

The reason: the victim of a gunshot wound who'd just been pronounced dead. He was subsequently identified as 31-year-old Armando Camarena.

The shooting took place at a residence on the 9400 block of Lilly Court, an area captured in the following interactive graphic; if you have problems seeing the image, click "View on Google Maps."

According to a Thornton PD release, investigators believed that a "verbal and physical disturbance with a known acquaintance" had led to the shooting.

At that point, the victim, Camarena, was placed in a car and driven to the hospital by (that phrase again) "known acquaintances," after which the suspected shooter fled the area.

A short time later, the TPD put out an alert for Hooker — and warned the public that he should be considered armed and dangerous.

Then, on May 1, came this tweet from the Thornton police:

Hooker reportedly turned himself in, and since then, prosecutors have come to a very different understanding about what actually preceded Camarena's fatal shooting.

A 17th Judicial District DA's office account states that Hooker and another friend, Fabian Mendez, had picked up Camarena earlier on the evening of the 30th. Hooker and Camarena later got into what the DA's office describes as a "mock-tussle over the gun" when the weapon went off, fatally injuring Camarena.

Rather than immediately attempting to explain what had happened to authorities, the DA's office maintains, Hooker "stashed the gun and magazine in gopher holes in a field near Pearl Street and Russell Boulevard."

This decision still brings substantial consequences for Hooker. Tampering with physical evidence is a felony for which he's scheduled to be sentenced on April 10 in Adams County District Court. But he'll be facing a considerably less severe sentence than law enforcers originally envisioned.