Joshua Johnson

Joshua Taylor Johnson

Colorado Springs police detectives have no doubt who killed 17-year-old Colorado Springs high school student Riley Whitelaw. 

"Who do you believe was responsible for the death of Riley Whitelaw?" prosecuting attorney Anthony Gioia asked Detective Stephen Aulino, one of three witnesses called to testify by the prosecution on Friday. 

"Joshua Johnson," Aulino responded. 

Aulino wasn't alone in that line of thinking, either. 

"Do you believe anyone else could have committed this murder?" Gioia asked Detective Michael Lee, referring to Johnson. 

"No," Lee responded. 

On Friday morning, more than 70 people gathered in an El Paso County courtroom with at least 25 more joining virtually to watch the preliminary hearing for Johnson, who is accused of killing his teenage Walgreens co-worker, Whitelaw, in June. 

During the four-hour hearing, the prosecuting attorneys had witnesses outline evidence that they believe show probable cause to continue pursuing first-degree murder charges against Johnson. 

On the evening of June 11, Whitelaw was found dead inside the breakroom of a Walgreens at 6820 Centennial Blvd. on Colorado Springs' northwest side, having suffered injuries to her neck.

According to an affidavit acquired by The Gazette, Whitelaw had made complaints to her manager at Walgreens about Johnson, 28, more than a year before her death, saying he was making “advances towards her” that made Whitelaw uncomfortable, something that was brought up several times in court on Friday.

Three witnesses were called by the prosecution, and each provided evidence the prosecution believes points to Johnson as Whitelaw's killer. Additionally, new details about the crime emerged during testimony. 

Aulino during his testimony discussed his interview with Johnson after he was arrested outside Trinidad a few hours after Whitelaw's body was found in the Walgreens breakroom. 

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Johnson told Aulino that he hadn't killed Whitelaw, but that he walked into the breakroom and discovered "a mysterious man ... with blue eyes that had a gray tint" stabbing Whitelaw. 

Johnson claimed to Aulino that this man attacked Johnson after he entered the breakroom, and after suffering scratches to his face and arms he ran. When Aulino asked Johnson why he didn't call the police, he stated that he was scared, and that the mysterious attacker "knew his address."

Aulino told the court that he believed Johnson was describing a man who is friends with Johnson's manager at Walgreens, who was at the store earlier that day. When the man was in the store, about three hours before Whitelaw's death, Johnson told his co-workers that he thought he was "suspicious." 

Police investigated the man and found video footage that proved he was at work at the time Whitelaw was killed, Aulino told the court. However, Johnson's defense attorney Deana O'Riley during cross-examination asked Aulino if Johnson ever explicitly said he was talking about that specific man, which Aulino said "no." 

Aulino said that Johnson did not have an explanation for the bloody clothes that were found at his home on the bathroom floor or for why he attempted to shave off his hair. 

Detective Rebecca Joines further described for the court what was found at the scene of Whitelaw's death.  

Joines said that a Gerber multitool was found on the floor of the breakroom with the knife extension sticking out covered in blood. Joines also said that in a storage room near the breakroom police found Johnson's nametag, radio and face mask on the floor. 

Police searched the locker belonging to Johnson and found a sheet of paper with the address, locker combination, phone number and Social Security number for Whitelaw and Whitelaw's boyfriend. 

Several detectives testified that Whitelaw's boyfriend, who was working at the same Walgreens as both Whitelaw and Johnson for approximately four months, caused Johnson to become "jealous" and "salty." 

Pictures were also shown to Judge Eric Bentley — but not the rest of the court — of the autopsy, where Aulino described the extent of the attack Whitelaw suffered. The autopsy report acquired by The Gazette states that Whitelaw suffered 42 wounds from a single-edged knife.

Despite hearing from all three of the prosecution's witnesses on Friday, Bentley was unable to give a verdict on the hearing because the defense attorney who was responsible for the cross-examination of Detective Lee was not able to be in court Friday. 

As a result, the cross-examination of Lee and the verdict from Bentley will come on Wednesday. 

If Bentley determines that the prosecution can move forward with pursuing charges against Johnson, a date for Johnson to announce a plea could be entered. 

Additionally, if Bentley sides with the prosecution, Johnson will continue to be held in El Paso County jail with no possibility of bond.