Woodbridge woman held in kidnapping, slaying
A Woodbridge woman who was ordered detained Wednesday, Jan. 9, by a federal judge is believed to have helped her husband conceal the murder of a man outside their home last year, according to a federal prosecutor.
Aninha Spear-Zuleta, 31, of 135 Rimmon Road, faces federal charges of robbery, kidnapping by use of force and aiding and abetting her husband, Christopher Spear, 45, of the same address. She also faces state charges of conspiracy to commit second-degree kidnapping and second-degree larceny.
In his motion for pretrial detention, Assistant U.S. Attorney Joseph Vizcarrondo wrote there is evidence Spear-Zuleta assisted Spear “in concealing the murder of Alan Robinson Jr., which occurred outside the Spear home in Woodbridge in April 2018.”
Neither Spear-Zuleta nor Spear has been charged with Robinson’s murder. He was 37 at the time of his death, living in Milford. Woodbridge police found him lying on Rimmon Road, outside the Spear home, on the morning of April 4 after residents called 911 to report they heard gunfire.
Robinson had been shot in the head and torso.
Vizcarrondo wrote in his motion that authorities recovered videotape from the Spear home “showing events within moments of Robinson’s death, including Aninha Spear-Zuleta running into the house, clutching what appears to be a handgun.”
“Further, from the context of the video,” Vizcarrondo wrote, “the suspected firearm is likely the very weapon used to kill Alan Robinson.”
Vizcarrondo noted the audio of the tape captured Spear-Zuleta “repeatedly and frantically asking Chris Spear what to do with the gun, shouting, ‘Put this where, Chris! Put this where!’ In response, Chris Spear can be heard to shout back: ‘Out of the house! In the car! Out of the house!’”
Spear fled Connecticut in May of last year when state police obtained arrest warrants for him and Spear-Zuleta. Members of the U.S. Marshal Service tracked him across the country, including Florida, Pennsylvania, New York and California, as he traveled with false documents and used multiple aliases. FBI agents caught up with him in San Francisco on Dec. 22.
Spear appeared in federal court in California and waived extradition to Connecticut to face multiple charges. These include interference with commerce by robbery and kidnapping.
The charges he and his wife face stem from an alleged encounter with Robinson’s fiancee on Nov. 28, 2017, in the basement of the Spear home.
According to Vizcarrondo’s motion, the fiancee told investigators “she was kidnapped and her home had been robbed in the wake of a drug dispute between her fiance and Chris Spear. It was her belief that the kidnapping/robbery incident was related to Robinson’s murder.”
This witness said she and Spear-Zuleta had been close friends in high school. She said Robinson sold drugs supplied to him by Spear.
But in fall 2017, the witness said, Spear told her Robinson was “a scam artist,” was “too flashy” and owed Robinson about $40,000 in drug money, according to the court motion.
On Nov. 27, 2017, the witness got a phone call from Spear-Zuleta, asking her to come to the Spear home. The witness said she was afraid of Spear because of his dispute with Robinson. And so when she went to the house, she brought along a person she had been hired to watch as a caretaker: an elderly man with severe dementia. She said she hoped this would make it less likely there would be a confrontation.
But when the witness and the elderly man arrived at the Spear house the following night, Spear ordered her to go with him down to the basement, according to the court motion. The witness said Spear yelled at her, threw her onto a couch, slapped her in the face and began to choke her. She said a man and woman she did not know who were in the basement intervened to restrain Spear.
The witness said Spear then ordered his wife and the two interveners in the basement to take the witness to the Milford condo she shared with Robinson and to take “everything and anything” belonging to Robinson.
During the robbery, the court document stated, Robinson, who was not home, was able to observe the intruders because he was monitoring the property via a security system linked to his cellphone. He called Milford police to report the robbery. However, Robinson’s fiancee convinced the two Milford officers who responded that there was no problem; she was merely having an argument with her “boyfriend.”
After the police left, the robbers continued to steal Robinson’s belongings, including a gun and a backpack containing a large quantity of drugs, according to the court motion. The witness said the backpack had tens of thousands of dollars’ worth of cocaine and that the other stolen items were worth more than $10,000.
In the conclusion of his 18-page motion, Vizcarrondo wrote: “There is probable cause to believe that Aninha Spear-Zuleta actively engaged in substantial criminal activity unknown to the (Connecticut) Superior Court when granting her pretrial release on bail. That activity included aiding and abetting her husband’s drug-trafficking and likely destroying physical and audio-visual evidence of his involvement in the killing of Alan Robinson at the Spear home.”
Vizcarrondo added that after she was released from Superior Court, Spear-Zuleta knew her husband was the target of a warrant for robbery/kidnapping charges but “she continued to communicate with him and likely provided material assistance allowing him to evade law enforcement for nearly eight months.”
Spear-Zuleta’s attorney, Tara Knight, could not be reached for comment. She is listed as Spear-Zuleta’s representative on the state court docket.