Duane Cassel Murder: Where is Joe Medina Now?

Investigation Discovery’s ‘Homicide Hunter: Lt. Joe Kenda: .357 Magnum’ follows two cases, one of which is the gruesome November 1995 murder of 16-year-old Whitefield Alternative High School student Duane Cassel. It delves into every aspect of the matter, whether it be how officials tracked down witnesses, eventually arrested the perpetrator, and cemented the case against them. So, if you wish to know more about the same, including the identity of the killer, we’ve got the details for you. 

How Did Duane Cassel Die?

On November 3, 1995, 32-year-old Tim Jordan had just returned from the gym to his East Dale Street home in Colorado Springs, Colorado, when everything for the community turned around. Suddenly, he heard loud gunshots right outside his window, prompting him to peep out, only to see a young man lying on the street in his friend’s arms. Tim instantly contacted the police upon noticing he was bleeding, but despite the first responders rushing him to a nearby hospital, the youngster was declared dead on arrival.

Investigators soon arrived at the scene to learn the victim was a 16-year-old mixed white and Asian male named Duane Cassel. He was a student at Whitefield Alternative High School and was a very positive individual who idolized his father, an over-the-road truck driver. It then came to light he’d been shot at eight times with a .380 caliber weapon, yet just two bullets hit him as he was inside his truck — one on his wrist and the other on his back. The bullet casings were on the right side of the vehicle, and the gunshot entries were in the passenger door glass, making it clear that the assailant had opened fire from outside. The blood trail on the road also showed that he had got out of the truck and walked a bit before collapsing.

Who Killed Duane Cassel?

Once detectives began canvassing the area, they discovered that Duane had been shot in front of a house where a party was going on at the time. The house belonged to Daniel Belzer, a close friend of Duane from school. He was thus obviously questioned, and he admitted that since his mother was out of town, he’d decided to host a party. There were no signs of a struggle or a brutal fight inside the Belzer residence, but the teen told investigators that a lot more people turned up than he had anticipated.

According to Daniel, Duane and one Brian Howlett did get into an argument, yet because he didn’t want any trouble, he’d intervened and asked them to leave. Shortly after they stepped outside, he added, he heard loud bangs and ran outside to find his friend shot. Officials then got Brian’s contact from Daniel and called him in for questioning. They also learned from Duane’s mother, Susan Cassel, that her son used to hang with a street gang called Four Corner Hustlers, though he had been recently cleaning up his act.

Once Brian came in, he claimed the argument between him and Duane was over a girlfriend, but it was quickly, normally resolved outside. However, he continued, he did see his friend, Joe Medina, then 18, suddenly pull out a gun and shoot the latter. This allegation was corroborated by another mutual friend, 17-year-old Dante Roan. According to the ID episode, he told investigators he was leaving with Duane when Joe came out of nowhere and emptied the clip of his weapon at the victim. A panicked Dante tried to flee the scene and got into the car of another friend, Shawn Trujillo, only to find the alleged killer sitting in the back seat.

Dante further claimed they went on to meet Nathaniel Simmons and his half-brother Steven Mowery from there. Joe, he said, discussed the entire incident with the duo before leaving in their car. That’s how officials were able to track Steven, who was almost expecting them at his door, and he quickly directed them to the 280-acre Johnson’s Reservoir, just south of Colorado Springs, to find the murder weapon. A diving team was able to retrieve the same based on the information, and as they did so, Joe was arrested.

Joe Medina is Behind Bars Today

Joe Medina almost immediately asked for a lawyer and invoked his right to remain silent. Yet it didn’t do him any good as his aides, Nathaniel and the others, told officials exactly what had transpired. They insisted Joe was trying to make a name for himself and had barged into the fight, hoping to end it. He was hence charged, tried, and sentenced for first-degree murder, for which he received a life term without parole in 1996.

Shawn, the driver of the getaway car, was found guilty of accessory to the crime of first-degree murder and sentenced to three years in prison. Brian, Nathaniel, and Steven were not charged owing to their cooperation with the police. Therefore, today, at the age of 45, Joe is incarcerated at the mixed-security Arkansas Valley Correctional Facility (AVCF) in Ordway, Crowley County, Colorado, where he is expected to remain for the rest of his natural life.

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