Breckenridge manslaughter case enters third day of testimony with jurors hearing from several crime scene experts

Analysts with the Colorado Bureau of Investigation provided details about gunshots and bloodstains found at the scene of a 2019 incident that left a 29-year-old dead

Miles Fernando Tovar is charged with manslaughter, first-degree burglary, first-degree criminal trespass and harassment in connection to the death of then-29-year-old Brendan Rye, who was killed during an altercation in Breckenridge on Nov. 6, 2019. His trial began at the Summit County Justice Center building on Feb. 29, 2024 with testimony expected to last through at least through March 6.
U.S. Marshal Service/Courtesy photo

The third day of testimony in the trial of a Breckenridge man accused of killing his roommate in 2019 saw several experts who reviewed evidence in the case take the stand before jurors on Monday, March 4. 

Seven crime scene analysts for the Colorado Bureau of Investigation described in testimony their findings after reviewing evidence collected from the scene of a deadly altercation in a Breckenridge condominium on the night of Nov. 6, 2019. 

The incident revolved around a fight between Miles Tovar and his then 29-year-old housemate Brendan Rye, who died after being choked by Tovar. 

Tovar, now 40, has been charged with reckless manslaughter, a Class 4 felony; first-degree burglary, a Class 3 felony; first-degree criminal trespass, a Class 5 felony; and harassment, a Class 3 misdemeanor. Tovar has maintained his innocence and has stated previously that he was acting in self-defense. 

The first expert to testify was Colorado Bureau of Investigation crime scene analyst David Yocum who said he arrived at the scene of the incident around 7 or 7:30 a.m. the morning after the altercation. 

Yocum identified the location of bullet holes fired by a gun during the altercation. Tovar, in past interviews with law enforcement, said the gun was fired twice by Rye during their confrontation. 

According to Yocum, the first shot is believed to have originated near the closet in the bedroom where Rye was staying. The bullet is believed to have passed through the door of the bedroom before hitting the wall of the hallway that leads to the bedroom. A second gunshot was determined to have been fired from a position near the threshold of the hallway and bedroom with the bullet hitting the bedroom floor. 

The use of a gun during the altercation has been a critical piece of Tovar’s defense. In his initial interviews with police, Tovar said that he began to choke Rye from behind only after he realized he’d been shot. 

While Yocum’s findings were able to identify the origin and end points of the two bullets fired, he said he could not determine the exact position in which the gun was fired and who fired it. 

“Bottom line — you can’t tell what was going on or not going on in that room,” Tovar’s defense attorney Dana Christiansen told Yocum. 

Yocum responded that what Christiansen said would be a “very fair statement.”

Prosecutors, however, argued that the findings did show some of what happened — two bullets were fired from different locations, one from within the bedroom toward the hallway and another into the bedroom floor.

Get the news you want, when you want it. Sign up for daily or weekly newsletters at

Other testimony centered around gun residue and blood found on the gun and elsewhere in the condo.

Colorado Bureau of Investigation forensic scientist Dana Greely said that an analysis of gun residue found on Rye’s hand proved that the gun had been fired but added that it does not determine who fired it. 

That’s because gun residue can transfer between surfaces such as hands. Most residue particles also diminish within the first four to five hours of a gun being fired, Greely said. 

Jennifer Dahlberg, a forensic scientist specializing in bodily fluids, said there was evidence of blood on the gun which was sent for DNA testing. Blood was also found on the living room floor, the floor of the hallway, the bedroom floor near the closet as well as in and near the bedroom’s en-suite bathroom. 

There was no noticeable blood staining on the bullet that passed through the bedroom door and into the hallway but Dahlberg added, “It is very common for a bullet to pass through a person and come out with no staining” that is noticeable. 

Kayleigh Matook, a DNA analyst who reviewed blood samples from the gun and various points in the condo, said she compared different scenarios to determine the likelihood that blood from Tovar, Rye or both was present in the different samples. 

For part of the gun, Matook’s analysis found “very strong support” that blood from both Tovar and Rye were present, though it did not draw a direct link to their DNA. Matook explained that her analysis compares the statistical probability that their DNA was present in the sample rather than the DNA of two unknown, unrelated individuals. 

Other analyses showed strong support for the possibility that Tovar’s DNA was in blood samples collected from the living room floor, hallway and near the bedroom closet. It also showed strong support for the possibility that Tovar’s DNA was found in a sample near the bathroom and on the bathroom floor.

Blood from the bathroom wall was found to have a strong possibility of originating from Tovar and Rye, according to Matook’s findings. 

Monday’s trial also contained another video interview between Tovar and police that was played for jurors. A different recording of a police interview was shown to jurors on March 1. 

The interview shown on Monday was conducted after Tovar was released from a local hospital for the gunshot wound he sustained during the Nov. 6, 2019 altercation. In the video, police say his wound is still bleeding. 

Tovar told police that the fight was instigated by Rye at the threshold of Rye’s bedroom in what Tovar described as a “wrestling” situation. 

“He put his hands on me. I put my hands on him back,” Tovar said. 

Tovar said it was during that point when heard a loud sound and realized he had been shot in the leg. Tovar said he didn’t remember if he began choking Rye before or during the second gunshot but told police he was trying to prevent Rye from firing again. 

“I was in fear for my life,” Tovar said. 

During the interview, police pressed Tovar on his drinking that night before he came home and got into the fight with Rye. Tovar said he and Rye were having dinner with residents of a neighboring condo and that he may have been “making a fool of myself” because he was drinking alcohol. 

Police said the neighbors characterized his behavior that night as aggressive, which Tovar denied. Later on in the interview, Tovar said drinking “ruins my personality” and calls it “a problem.” 

He continued to tell police that he is not an aggressive person and would never start a fight with anybody but that he did what he had to do to protect himself. 

“It sucks to say it. I choked a guy to sleep who shot me,” Tovar said in the recording. 

Testimony is expected to resume Tuesday and will last through at least Wednesday.

Support Local Journalism

Support Local Journalism

As a Summit Daily News reader, you make our work possible.

Summit Daily is embarking on a multiyear project to digitize its archives going back to 1989 and make them available to the public in partnership with the Colorado Historic Newspapers Collection. The full project is expected to cost about $165,000. All donations made in 2023 will go directly toward this project.

Every contribution, no matter the size, will make a difference.