Top 50 Notable Cases

Over the 31 years Steve Jensen has been with the First Judicial District, he has prosecuted literally thousands of cases on behalf of People of the State of Colorado.

Below is a listing including some of the most notable cases that Steve has handled. These cases were selected because of their serious nature or the public attention paid to them, but all cases handled by the District Attorney’s Office, especially those involving victims, are treated seriously. In nearly all of these cases, Steve was the lead prosecutor, but in many of them he also had a talented partner and other exceptional support staff. The First Judicial District prides itself on its team approach to prosecution.


Carlos Yeazel

1989

One of the highest media coverage cases of the year in the Denver metro area. A domestic violence case, in which 19-year-old Carlos Yeazel, an immigrant from Columbia, stalked his former high school girlfriend after she broke up with him.

He first broke into a vacant home across the street from her house in Arvada, out of which her mother conducted in home day care. From that vantage point, he put the house under surveillance. The girlfriend had stayed home from high school out of fear of Yeazel, and when the mother took her daughter and two day-care children to the store, he broke into the house and armed himself with two butcher knives. When they returned home, he ambushed them, stabbing the mother 12 times, his ex-girlfriend 8 times, and stabbing through the back a 2 and ½ year old daycare child. Yeazel fled the house after the attack and broke into a third house, climbing into the attic and, unbeknownst to the residents, hiding there while the police searched for him. An extensive manhunt ensued, with a number of schools being closed. Eventually he was apprehended after he left that house.

The victims were seriously injured but, miraculously, survived the attack, with a doctor testifying that the injury to the child was the closest to death without dying he had ever treated. At trial the defense raised a mental health defense. He was convicted of attempted 1st degree murder, five counts of 1st degree assault, and of one stand 2nd degree burglary and sentenced to 112 years in prison.


Floyd David Slusher

1990

Floyd Slusher was on parole in Lakewood following a conviction for sexually assaulting members of his boy scout troop in Boulder County. A parole search of his residence was conducted after another inmate reported making arrangements to provide the defendant with access to a drug addicted women’s child. Found during the search where hundreds of images of child pornography as well as video of the child suspected of being abused.

He was tried and convicted of multiple counts of sexual exploitation of a child. Sentenced to 53 years in prison. 


Allen Swendra

1991

Swendra Ambushed a Bingo parlor manager as he left work with the night’s proceeds, shooting and killing him. He had committed another robbery of a Burger King just days before using the same gun. He was convicted at trial of aggravated robbery and 1st degree murder and sentenced to life in prison.


Michael Freeman

1992

Michael Freeman and a confederate committed three armed robberies of Wheat Ridge businesses. Wheat Ridge Police Officer (Jim Lorenz) responded to the calls and cornered the vehicle on a dead-end street. The vehicle turned around and drove at Officer Lorenz, who had exited his vehicle, and the occupants then fired at him from the moving car. Officer Lorenz returned fire, with one of his bullets severing the ignition wire in the steering column, causing the vehicle to stall. The suspects then fled on foot, with Michael Freeman being apprehended at a nearby restaurant. The other suspect was killed the next day in a shootout with the police in Denver.

Freeman was tried and convicted of three counts of aggravated robbery, 1st degree assault on a peace officer, and of being a habitual criminal, and was sentenced to life in prison.


Jay Finesilver

1992

Jay Finesilver was an attorney who was the son of a prominent Judge for the US District Court for the District of Colorado. As an attorney for various title insurance companies, he misappropriated funds and falsified documents.

He was convicted by guilty plea of a felony offense of Forgery. He was disbarred from the practice of law by the Colorado Supreme Court.


Albert Petrosky

1995

Perhaps the most egregious and highly publicized Colorado case of the year. Albert Petrosky went to an Albertsons were his estranged wife worked and shot and killed her and the store manager. He then exited the store, shooting and wounding a pregnant woman in a car, and then set up a .50 caliber rifle on a tripod, waiting for the police to arrive. The first officer to arrive on scene, Sgt. Timothy Mossbrucker, was shot through the windshield of his car and killed. 

Steve Jensen was on the motion’s team and spent 3 weeks litigating motions in the case. The case was defended by the Public Defender’s death penalty squad. The case was tried by Dave Thomas, Pete Weir, and Charles Tingle, resulting in first degree murder convictions, but no death penalty finding. Petrosky killed himself in the Denver County jail prior to sentencing.


Gary Widman

1995

Gary Widman was a ring leader of a group calling themselves We The People, that was under investigation by the Colorado Attorney General for conducting a fraud operation that bilked hundreds of desperate people out of money. After a search warrant was served on Widman’s home, recovering evidence of the fraud operation, he retaliated by sending letters to government officials that if they did not drop their investigations and return his property, he would put multi-million-dollar liens on their property. When the officials did not comply with his demands, he filed fraudulent liens on the homes of the government officials, including Attorney General Gail Norton.

Because the Attorney General was a victim, their office could not prosecute the case. Steve took the case to trial for the Attorney General’s Office, calling Attorney General Norton to testify, and resulting in felony convictions for attempt to influence a public servant and convictions for filing false liens. Gary Widman was sentenced to DOC.


Thanh Tran

1993 - 1996

In 1993 a group of masked Vietnamese men conducted a home invasion robbery of the family and owner of the New Saigon Vietnamese restaurant. The leader of the group, Thanh Tran, was scheduled to go to trial but jumped bond and fled to Vietnam. Steve worked with the bondsman and US authorities in the State Department to return him to Colorado to stand trial.

This was the first defendant ever extradited from Vietnam back to the US to stand trial. He was tried and convicted of five counts of aggravated robbery and sentenced to 50 years in prison. Two other co-defendants were also convicted of robbery.


Karl Mayne (Evergreen Bear Shooting)

1996

Karl Mayne shot and killed a mother bear and her two cubs out of a tree near a neighbor’s home in Conifer, CO. This was a very high media attention case, with residents in the area being outraged over the senseless and cruel killing of these animals.

Steve attended a number of community meetings with Division of Wildlife officials to address community concerns and answer questions about protection of wildlife in the urban mountain corridor of Jefferson County. The case was taken to trial and Mayne was convicted of two counts of cruelty to animals, three counts of unlawful hunting or taking of wildlife, and hunting with artificial light.


Randal Lee Francis

1997

On November 11, 1995, Samson, a majestic elk with a 9 by 7-point rack, who was considered the Estes Park Mascot, was illegally killed by Randal Francis. He killed Samson with a bolt from a crossbow near at the entrance to the YMCA of the Rockies. Francis was shooting trophy-quality animals to remove their heads and sell them. The crime sparked community outrage. Francis pled guilty to “willful destruction of wildlife” and was sentenced in Larimer County in September of 1996, to probation, with 90 days jail and a large fine. 

In early 1997, the Division of Wildlife came to Steve with a case involving the poaching of another trophy Elk in the Hiwan community of Evergreen. Investigation revealed that this elk had been shot with a cross-bow bolt, and its head removed and the rest of the animal abandoned. Following the publicity associated with the killing of Samson, a taxidermist had contacted the Division of Wildlife and reported that Francis had brought a trophy elk head in for mounting. The DOW took samples from the elk at the taxidermist and samples from the elk remains in Evergreen, as well as comparative samples from the Colorado elk heard, and sent them to a lab in Canada that was doing animal DNA analysis. The lab reported there was a DNA match between the two samples. Francis was charged in Jefferson County with the felony of willful destruction of big game. He pled guilty and was sentenced to probation, with one year of jail work release. This was the first Colorado case to ever use elk DNA as evidence.


Jerald Allen

1997 - 1998

On November 7, 1997 after a reported hostage situation, Allen fled in a stolen vehicle, with a young woman in the car, taking the police on a high-speed chase even after running over stop-sticks, which deflated the vehicles tires. He drove down the wrong side of C470, seriously endangering oncoming traffic, and repeatedly firing a rifle back at pursuing officers. When he reached Denver, the Denver Police terminated the chase by firing upon the vehicle. Allen also had a number of Molotov cocktails in the vehicle.

At trial, TV reporters were called to show helicopter video footage of the chase and to describe a jail interview with Allen. He was convicted of aggravated motor vehicle theft, vehicular eluding, possession of an incendiary device, and 15 counts of attempted manslaughter and 15 counts of menacing with a deadly weapon. He was sentenced to a lengthy term in prison.


Shawn Childs

1998

In the middle of the night, Shawn Childs went to the victim’s residence in Gilpin County and woke him and his girlfriend up, while her two young children were asleep upstairs. He then shot the victim in the eye, grievously wounding him, and then executed him with another shot to the head. The girlfriend tried to flee, and Child’s shot her, but the bullet hit a fold in her jacket, knocking her to the ground, where she played dead. He fired a number of other shots at her from across the room, which missed her, and he then left, believing she was dead.

The surviving victim then called the Gilpin Sheriff’s Department and identified Child’s as the killer. She courageously testified at trial, and Child’s was convicted of 1st degree murder and attempted 1st degree murder. He was sentenced to life in prison.


Edwardo Quinonez

1998 - 1999

Conviction by guilty plea to 1st degree arson, felony theft, and felony criminal mischief for the November 18, 1998 arson to Lakewood High School, causing $250,000 in damages. Quinonez was a disgruntled former student of the high school. Sentenced to prison.


Ramon “Munchie” Lopez

1999

At Red Rocks Amphitheater, Lopez, a gang member with multiple prior convictions, pointed a gun at a 16-year-old rival gang member’s head and repeatedly ordered him to say, “fuck the north side.”  When the 16-year-old refused to say those words, Lopez shot and killed him. Steve took the challenging case to trial, respecting the wishes of the victim’s family. Lopez was acquitted at trial, when the jury had difficulty believing the testimony of other gang affiliated witnesses. However, while in jail awaiting trial on the murder charge, Lopez spat in a guard’s face, and Steve charged and convicted him of second-degree assault, resulting in an eight-year prison sentence.


Columbine Gun Supplier Cases - Mark Manes & Phil Duran

1999 - 2000

Following the massacre at Columbine, the investigation revealed that Mark Manes and Phil Duran had supplied the killers with the Tech 9 machine pistol and ammunition that was used in the massacre, as well as going target practicing with the killers and firing two illegal sawed-off shotguns that were used in the massacre. Eventually, Manes and Duran pled guilty to the felony offenses of supplying a gun to a minor and possession of a dangerous weapon.

Steve aggressively sought incarceration, and Mark Manes was sentenced to 6 years in prison and Phil Duran was sentenced to 4 and ½ years in prison. Steve handled these cases with his young division partner—George Brauchler (now the elected District Attorney for the 18th Judicial District), who has publicly referred to Steve as his mentor when he was a young prosecutor.


Post Columbine bomb threat case - Fay Ralene Holt

2000

Following the massacre at Columbine, the schools had to deal with a number of false bomb threats. Holt, a disgruntled parent, was tried and convicted of making a false report of explosives and menacing to Pomona High School on April 28, 1999, one week after the massacre.

The bomb threat caused the evacuation and closure of the high school. At sentencing, Steve calculated the number of hours lost to students and staff as a result of the bomb threat and asked the court to impose that equivalent of days of incarceration—which the court did.


Watkins & Ponder (Rebirthing case)

2001

One of the highest media attention cases of the year in the US. Candace Newmaker had been taken away from her biological family and adopted by Ms. Newmaker, a nurse. When Candace had behavioral problems related to attaching to her adopted mother, she brought Candace to Watkin’s home, in Evergreen, billed as the Attachment Center, to receive treatment for “attachment disorder.” Watkins used a torturous type of treatment on the child, involving extreme agitation techniques, such as squeezing the child’s face while taunting her and physically holding her very tightly.

They then decided to experiment by using a bizarre rebirthing therapy technique they had been told of by a visiting therapist from California, which was designed to symbolically simulate the child being reborn to her adoptive mother. No scientific efficacy had ever been shown for this procedure. Candace was covered by a blanket and several heavy cushions and held down by four adults (two therapists and two untrained assistants) against her will for 70 minutes, as she pleaded that she could not breath, was soiling herself, and was dying. When the therapists finally checked on her condition after she was non-responsive for many minutes, she was brain dead from asphyxiation. The whole procedure was video recorded and was played in its horribly graphic detail for the jury.

The joint trial of the two therapists lasted four weeks. Convictions were obtained for Child Abuse resulting in death and criminal impersonation (for misleading the adopted mother about Watkins’ qualifications), with 16-year sentences to prison being imposed for each therapist. The two untrained assistants pled guilty to lesser felony child abuse charges. During the trial, Governor Owens signed into law legislation banning rebirthing therapy in Colorado. Congress also took action condemning the procedure.


Improper gun storage case - Shawn Lennie

2002

Lennie left a fully loaded handgun in the nightstand in his bedroom,where his 7-year-old and 3-year-old son found it. As the boys were playing with the gun, it discharged, shooting the 3-year-old in the head, and causing very serious injuries. The mother of the children testified that she had discussed with the father not leaving the gun loaded where the kids could find it and that he assured her he would not. The father was tried and convicted of reckless child abuse resulting in serious bodily injury (F4) and child abuse (M1).


Gary Born

2002

Gary Born was an eleven-year veteran of the Colorado State Patrol, with a good reputation for the quality of his work. Investigation revealed that in his private life he had been subjecting a young girl to inappropriate sexual touching. He pled guilty to sexual assault on a child by one in a position of trust. At a very emotional sentencing, the courageous eleven-year-old victim addressed the court. Steve argued that a two-year jail sentence was necessary because of Born’s status as a law enforcement officer, stating: “He was the type of person people were supposed to go to to report crimes. When a person who perpetrates a crime is a member of law enforcement, the victim feels even more helpless and feels they have nowhere to turn.”

He was sentenced to 20 years to life of intensive supervision probation, with two years of jail work. Tragically, after he was released from the work release program to seek employment, he committed suicide by stepping in front of a tractor-trailer on highway 58.


James Morrell

2002

James Morrell had been a Sunday-school and a board member of a church in Arvada. Over an eight-year period he sexually molested three boys at his home and in the back room of a soccer specialty store in Wheat Ridge. He pled guilty to three counts of sexual assault on a child by one in a position of trust and was sentenced to 36 years in prison.


Ruth De-Oliveira

2003

De-Oliveira of Evergreen slammed her 2-year-old daughter against a wall because she was screaming, causing severe brain damage (estimated 60% dead) to the child. She pled guilty to child abuse resulting in serious bodily injury and was sentenced to 20 years in prison.


David Gallegos

2003

Gallegos broke the leg and caused multiple rib fractures to his 9-week-old son. He had injured the child on multiple occasions. The child was in a body cast for nearly six weeks, but eventually recovered from his injuries. Gallegos pled guilty to two counts of  child abuse resulting in serious bodily injury and was sentenced to 12 years in prison.


James Henry Hunter

2004

The victim lived with her four-year-old daughter in a trailer home in Lakewood. While they slept, Hunter, who had numerous prior felony convictions, broke into the victim’s home and brutally beat her and sexually assaulted her and her daughter. Hunter lived in the trailer adjacent to the victim. DNA evidence connected him to the crime, as well as evidence of the prior commission of a similar burglary.  He was convicted at trial of 1st degree burglary, sexual assault, sexual assault on a child & assault, and sentenced to 84 years to life in prison.


Jesus Meraz-Cordero

2004

The defendant, a Mexican National, was arrested in Adams County for robbing a motorist using his wife’s badge (she was a Denver officer). He was allowed to plead guilty to a lesser felony offense in Adams County, with the agreement that he would be deported back to Mexico. He unlawfully re-entered the US and returned to Colorado where he was living with his wife. While she was at work, he shook his wife’s 4-year-old child to death. He was convicted by guilty plea of child abuse resulting in death and sentenced to 34 years in prison.


James Philpott

2004 - 2005

Philpott was an LPN at the Hospice of St. John in Lakewood. He bragged to a co-worker that he had sexually assaulted an 89-year-old patient and a 10-year-old comatose child suffering from a terminal genetic disorder. In the ensuing investigation, he confessed to having sexual contact with the child. Both victims had since died of natural causes. He pled guilty to sexual assault on a child by one in a position of trust. Steve argued for a prison sentence because of Philpott’s great violation of trust by a medical care giver, but the court imposed a sentence of 20 years to life of intensive supervision probation, with two years of jail work release.


Kevin Ponis - Dakota Ridge HS Tennis Coach

2005

Tried and convicted the Dakota Ridge HS Tennis Coach of sexual assault on a child, pattern of abuse, for repeated sexual intercourse at the high school with 17-year-old student tennis player. Two other tennis players testified as other act witnesses that he had done the same thing with them as students at the HS just after they turned 18.  Sentenced to 11 years to life.


Paleontologist (Charles Repenning) Homicide - Kasparson, Wessel, Mapps

2005 - 2006

Charles Repenning was a prominent 82-year old paleontologist and WWII survivor who lived alone in his house in Lakewood. He was brutally murdered in his residence, after his home was broken into by Kasparson and Wessel, who attacked him in his bedroom. He was beaten and suffocated to death by shoving a sock down his throat and taping his mouth shut. The two burglars then loaded their truck and Mr. Repening’s stolen SUV with his personal property, including numerous fossils and WWII artifacts, and drove away, later splitting up the loot and selling some of it to a drug dealer named Michael Mapps.

Three separate jury trials were conducted, with Kasparson and Wessel being convicted of 1stdegree murder, 1stdegree burglary, and aggravated motor vehicle theft, and sentenced to life in prison. Michael Mapps was convicted of manufacturing of methamphetamine (a search of his residence uncovered an operating meth lab and items of the victim’s property) and felony murder for offering money and methamphetamine to the killers to burglarize the home, and he died in prison while his life sentence was on appeal. Additionally, two others were convicted and sentenced to lengthy prison sentences for their involvement in the crimes


Gregory Ullrich

2006 - 2007

On the day before Mother’s Day, in 2006, Ullrich was speeding (between 57 and 65 mph in a 45) down Wadsworth Blvd., with a blood alcohol level of .184 (more than twice the DUI level) when he slammed into a light pole at Wadsworth and 92nd Avenue, killing two teenage boys—Chayce Miller and Alex Livesay, who were passengers in the car. Ullrich had two prior drunk driving convictions and was driving on a revoked license. He pled guilty to two counts of vehicular homicide and was sentenced to 20 years in prison.


Glen WOrley

2007

A domestic violence related homicide. Worley’s wife had separated from with him and was in the process of attempting to end their relationship. He lured her and her best friend to his apartment under a pretext. He sprayed mace into his wife’s eyes and then stabbed her in the face with a hunting knife. He then attacked his wife’ best friend by slashing her throat, which resulted in her death. His wife was able to flee from the apartment, escaping with serious injury. He was convicted at trial of 1st degree murder, 1st degree assault, and attempted 1st degree murder and sentenced to life in prison.


Kenneth Childress

2008

Convicted defendant at trial of child abuse, two counts of contributing to the delinquency of a child, and DUI vehicular assault on a complicity theory for directing his teenage son to drive recklessly while under the influence of alcohol, while he was in the back seat with his 3-year-old son who was standing unrestrained. The defendant had actually helped supply his older son with alcohol prior to the driving and was shouting commands at him to drive faster and disregard traffic control devices. The resulting traffic accident (smashed into another car and then a building) caused catastrophic injuries to the unrestrained 3-year-old, who was thrown into the windshield.

The defense claimed that because Childress was not actually driving the car, he could not be held accountable for his son’s drunk and reckless driving, while Steve claimed he was guilty as a complicitor for aiding, advising and encouraging his son in his drunk driving behavior. Childress was sentenced to a lengthy term in prison. The Colorado Supreme court agreed with the prosecution and used this case to decide that complicity may also apply to strict liability offenses, such as DUI vehicular assault.


Adam & Aaron Zamora

2008

Marijuana rip-off murder of victim Dylan Newman who met with the Zamora brothers to buy $10,000 of marijuana. Instead, Adam Zamora shot and killed Dylan and stole his $10,000. Both brothers were tried together, with Adam Zamora convicted of aggravated robbery and 1st degree murder, resulting in a life sentence to prison, and Aaron Zamora convicted of manslaughter, resulting in a prison sentence. 


Bear Creek HS Arson Case

2008

While head of the juvenile unit, Steve tried and had adjudicated as a delinquent for arson, the juvenile offender who started the April 22, 2008 fire at Bear Creek High School, which resulted in great disruption of school operations and some $3 million in damage.


Operation ShoeString

2008 - 2009

This case involved a court approved wiretap investigation with a Grand Jury investigation and indictment of 34 individuals for charges related to a drug distribution network. The indictment had 141 counts, including many under the Colorado Organized Crime Act (COCA). The drug operation was importing an estimated 110 pounds of cocaine into Colorado each month from Mexico, which had an estimated street value of $4 million. 13 pounds of cocaine and a large amount of money were seized at the conclusion of the investigation. Steve was involved in the investigation and oversaw the successful prosecution of the cases related to nearly all of the 34 individual defendants, including one successful drug distribution trial.


Linwood Halliburton

2009 - 2010

On the evening of February 10, 2009, Halliburton burglarized the Lakewood United Methodist Church located at 1390 Brentwood Street, but was scared off by the pastor, her husband, and their dog who responded to the burglar alarm. On the early evening of the next day, February 11, 2009, Haliburton was in the process of burglarizing First Presbyterian Church in Lakewood, when he was interrupted by the arrival of the choir director who arrived at the church for choir practice. He brutally attacked and sexually assaulted her.

He was convicted at trial of both burglaries and of assault, sexual assault, robbery and kidnapping of the choir. He was sentenced as a habitual criminal to 228 years to life in prison.


Deer Creek Middle School Shooting - Bruco Eastwood

2010 - 2011

School let out at 3:05 PM on February 23, 2010 at Deer Creek Middle School. The school is located in the southern part of Jefferson County, about a mile from Columbine High School. As school was letting out, 32-year-old Bruco Eastwood opened fire on students with a hunting rifle, while screaming they were all going to die. He shot an 8th grade girl in the arm at close range and an 8th grade boy in the side, with both of them sustaining serious bodily injury, but surviving their wounds. A courageous teacher, David Benke, tackled Eastwood and held him down until Sheriff’s Deputies arrived.

Eastwood had attended the middle school and harbored animosity toward the school. This was an insanity defense case, with many psychological experts involved. The defendant was obviously mentally ill, but the issue was whether he was capable of distinguishing right from wrong or prevented from forming the requisite mental states associated with the charged offenses. There were substantial indications of planning and deliberative steps taken by the defendant before the shooting. Psychiatrists from the State Hospital and one retained by the defense rendered somewhat conflicting opinions, with the last of those opinions finding that although it was a close call, he felt the defendant was insane. The court would not allow the prosecution’s psychiatrist to interview the defendant, preventing him from reaching a dispositive conclusion, but he did opine that there were many indications suggesting the defendant was not insane.

The jury found the defendant guilty of possessing a firearm on school grounds, but not guilty solely by reason of insanity of attempted 1st degree murder and 1st degree assault. Eastwood was deemed to have already served the time for the convicted weapons offense and was committed to the State Hospital on the finding of insanity. Steve has continued to handle the case in efforts to prevent the defendant from being released from the State Hospital, with the last hearing successfully preventing limited unsupervised release into the community being held in 2018.

Following the case, Steve drafted legislation requiring forensic psychiatric interviews in mental health cases be video recorded. In this way, the prosecution expert and the jury would be able to review directly the psychiatric interviews and evaluate the questions and answers. Steve lobbied for the passage of this legislation, including testifying before the Colorado Senate. A version of that legislation was passed into law in 2016, effective in January of 2017.


Randy Keesee

2011

Keesee committed the aggravated robbery of the Famous Bonanza casino in Central City, getting away with some $10,000 in cash. He then drove and parked his car in the parking garage for the Golden Gates Casino, in Blackhawk. The fleeing car had been tracked by video surveillance, and Sgt. Ken Lloyd of the Blackhawk PD confronted Keesee in the parking garage and tried to arrest him. Keesee pulled out a handgun and attempted to shoot Sgt. Lloyd, but the gun had a double-feed malfunction. Sgt. Lloyd then shot and wounded Keesee, thereby taking him into custody. He was convicted at trial of attempted 1st degree murder, 1st degree assault on a peace officer, aggravated robbery, possession of a weapon by a previous offender, and of being a habitual criminal, and was sentenced to 224 years in prison.


Adam Dixon

2012

A domestic violence murder cold case. Steve re-reviewed a 14-year-old cold case homicide that had been declined for filing by another prosecutor. The body of victim Sabrina Stevens was found dumped along C470, with the suspect being her former boyfriend, Adam Dixon. Steve concluded that the previously reviewing Deputy District Attorney had made a mistake and that the evidence, including admissions made to others, persuasively supported the filing of homicide charges, even though a number of the prosecution witnesses had died in the intervening 14 years. 

Charges were filed and the defendant was apprehended in another state and extradited back to Colorado. He pled guilty to 2nddegree murder and died in prison.


Joe Ruiz

2012 - 2013

On the evening of November 9, 2012, Lakewood officer’s responded to reports of several gunshots in the area of the 1900 Block of Eaton Street, in Lakewood. Ruiz was observed by an officer to exit a residence at 1940 Eaton, discharge a firearm, and return inside the residence. In the investigation that followed, Lakewood Police Officer James Jeffery Davies was fatally shot by a fellow officer.

Steve was on call and participated in the investigation of incident. He charged and prosecuted Ruiz for his role in creating the dangerous circumstances that contributed to the tragedy. Ruiz was eventually convicted by guilty pleas to disorderly conduct (unlawful public discharge of a firearm), prohibited use of a weapon (drunk with a gun), obstructing a peace officer, and false reporting to authorities. He was sentenced to probation with jail as a condition. 


Abunantambu-El

2014

The defendant, who had recently been released from prison, was stalking a female that was trying to avoid him. He pushed his way into her residence and attacked a male guest, brutally stabbing and killing him, as well as assaulting the female. He was convicted at trial of 1st degree murder, 1st degree burglary, and Assault and sentenced to life in prison. The matter is on appeal before the Colorado Supreme Court on an issue related to jury selection. 


Collen Loris

2014

On June 10, 2014, Loris shot and killed 26-year-old Tony Velasquez in a room at the Isle Casino/Hotel. She had earlier been selling methamphetamine and exchanged some to obtain a stolen revolver, before traveling to Blackhawk. She pointed the gun at Mr. Velasquez, while she was under the influence of methamphetamine, and it discharged, shooting him in the head and killing him. She claimed it was an accident. She admitted she had been distributing meth, even though she was on Federal parole supervision for a methamphetamine offense. She had 46 grams of meth in the hotel room. She pled guilty to manslaughter, possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine, and being a habitual criminal. She was sentenced to 32 years in prison.


Lawrence White

2015

This was a very challenging case involving the brutal kidnapping, strangulation, and repeated sexual assault of a 22-year-old woman who was suffering from a mental disorder. The case was made more difficult by the incredibly unpleasant and aggressive behavior of the defense attorney, who only two weeks before trial announced to the court that his client would not even plead guilty to a petty offense.

The jury found the defendant guilty of 1st Degree Kidnapping (a class 1 felony) and 3 counts of sexual assault and one count of second degree assault. The defendant (who had 3 prior felony convictions, including one for accessory to murder) was sentenced to life in prison.


Travis Sandlin

2016

Travis Sandlin is the only prisoner to ever escape from the Jefferson County Jail. Sandlin escaped from our jail on October 5, 2014 by prying open the bars on the work-out room of the jail and scaling down the outside wall. He then proceeded to go on a multi-county crime spree of burglaries, auto thefts, trespasses to vehicles, identity thefts and vehicular eluding. His crime spree ended when he was re-arrested on October 16, 2014 in Boulder’s Sunshine Canyon after ramming the Boulder Sheriff’s Office’s bear cat vehicle, and then rolling the stolen vehicle he was in as he tried to continue his escape. He was tried and found guilty 31 felony counts. He was also convicted of being a habitual criminal. He was sentenced to 72 years in prison.


Daniel Williams

2016

Dan Williams shot two bear cubs that were rummaging through his uncovered and unsecured trash and in the process shot a hole through a neighbor’s (an attorney’s) bedroom window as he slept in the room. The case received considerable media coverage and provoked considerable community outrage. The DA’s office was bombarded with emails from around the world. He was convicted at trial of Illegal Discharge of a Firearm (F5), Aggravated Cruelty to Animals (M1), and Illegal Possession of Wildlife (M).


Efrain Gonzales

2016

The defendant entered the apartment of a sleeping 18-year-old women, who was a complete stranger to him, stole property, and then attacked the young women as she slept in her bed. He subjected her to suffocation and then sexually assaulted her. During the assault he dropped his Mexican Passport and his girlfriend’s cell phone, which allowed the police to identify and apprehend him as the perpetrator. He entered a guilty plea shortly before trial, resulting in a sentence of 30 years to life.


Patrick Engle & Daigle Family

2017

On March 8, 2016, a young mother was driving southbound on Wadsworth Blvd., in the Westminster area, during rush hour, when she was hit head on by a fleeing stolen truck towing a trailer with two stolen ATVs (one had already fallen off in the midst of traffic). The victim, Jessica Holman, died on scene, as the first responding officer held her hand in her mangled Jeep Liberty. The truck involved in the fatal collision was stolen using another stolen truck. The owner of the stolen truck was following and narrating to the 911 dispatcher, and the stolen truck was attempting to elude him and then the Westminster Police.

There were two individuals in the stolen truck, both who attempted to flee on foot, and one, Patrick Engle, who was apprehended at the scene. He immediately blamed the other individual, Ignacio Daigle, as being the driver. Daigle was caught at his grandmother’s house 3 days later, where they were throwing a party for him. There was no DNA evidence proving who the driver was and both defendants pointed at the other. Through a great deal of investigation, including proffers and testimony from co-defendant Daigle and the defendant’s girlfriend, as well as eye witness testimony to solidify the issue of who was driving, Engle was convicted at trial of vehicular homicide, vehicular eluding resulting in death, two counts of aggravated motor vehicle theft in the 1st degree, felony theft, and possession of a burglary tool. Engle was also convicted of being a habitual criminal, with seven prior felony convictions (4 aggravated motor vehicle thefts, I vehicular eluding, 1 possession of a weapon by previous offender, and one escape). He was sentenced to 96 years in prison.  

Ignacio Daigle, who was 19 at the time of the crime, was sentenced to 9 years in prison for his guilty pleas to Aggravated Motor Vehicle theft and Vehicular Eluding resulting in death. His mother and his grandmother (after a jury trial) were convicted of accessory to a crime for harboring Ignacio, and both, who had prior felony convictions, were also sentenced to prison.


Erik Newton

2018

On July 17, 2016, a young man named Zach Greenstreet was shot 7 times and killed on his driveway after he returned home from visiting his parents. It was a brutal execution type killing. It was two years bringing Erik Newton to justice, primarily because of a delay of over a year for a mental condition evaluation by the State Hospital. Despite a mental condition examination report concluding that the defendant was malingering (faking or exaggerating symptoms), the defense continued to argue that the defendant’s claim that he was hearing voices that he was attempting to silence, caused him not to act intentionally and after deliberation, and he should only be convicted of a lesser degree of homicide. During cross examination, it was revealed that the defendant began to hear these alleged voices while he was reading the “Satanic Bible”.

The jury returned a guilty verdict to 1st Degree Murder and tampering with evidence (he buried the murder weapon after the crime), and he was sentenced to life in prison.


Richard Mathis

2017 - 2018

On February 24, 2017, Mathis attacked an RTD bus driver who asked him to leave the bus after it had reached the end of its route. He repeatedly stabbed the driver with a box cutter and bit off part of his ear. He also assaulted a police officer who attempted to arrest him. He was convicted by guilty plea of assault in the first degree and assault in the second degree. Mathis, who was under the influence of methamphetamine at the time of the attack also had three prior felony convictions. He was sentenced to 20 years in prison.


Jeffrey Snyder

2017 - 2018

On July 17, 2017, a sheriff’s deputy was attempting to serve process on Snyder at 5955 Garrison Street in Arvada. Snyder, who was intoxicated, opened the door and pointed a gun at the Sheriff’s Deputy. The Deputy repeatedly ordered Snyder to drop his gun, and when he did not, fired upon him, causing him a grazing wound in the side. Steve Jensen oversaw the Critical Incident Review Team investigation for the DA’s office, which found the officer had acted in self-defense. Snyder was convicted at trial of two counts of prohibited use of a weapon and sentenced to probation, with 60 days jail as a condition. 


Jeffrey Maynard

2018

John Cumby had come to Colorado to go camping when he went missing. Maynard was stopped in Ada, Idaho, driving the van of John Cumby and in possession of his personal property. Based on GPS data on photographs on Mr. Cumby’s phone, his decomposing body was located by a camp site near the Moffat tunnel in Gilpin County. An autopsy suggested that he had died of manual strangulation. Although there were no witnesses to the crime, DNA from blood on Mr. Cumby’s clothing matched Maynard. Maynard was wanted on a Texas felony warrant, and he had been using Mr. Cumby’s credit cards to make purchases as he headed toward the Canadian border. He pled guilty to 2nd degree murder, ID theft, and aggravated motor vehicle theft, and received a 44-year sentence to prison.


Troy Glassford

2018

On January 10, 2018, in the area of Pomona Drive and Quay Drive, in Arvada, Nathan Osburn, a 43-year-old father of 4, was out for a walk when he was run over on the sidewalk by a vehicle that Glassford drove through a fence and onto the sidewalk. Mr. Osburn was pinned under the vehicle and died at the scene. Toxicology reports showed that Glassford had almost twice the legal amount of marijuana and a high level of amphetamine in his system at the time of the collision. He pled guilty to vehicular homicide, DUI, and being a habitual criminal, resulting in a 36-year prison sentence.


Enrique Arellano

2018

On May 25, 2018, Lakewood PD agents attempted to apprehend Arellano who was entering a stolen vehicle. He refused to stop and ran over a K9 officer, causing him serious injury. After the agent was hit by the car and injured, his K9 partner bit a police sergeant, before the injured officer could calm him. Arellano crashed the stolen vehicle into a parked car and fled on foot. He was apprehended hiding in a trash dumpster. He was convicted by guilty plea of assault in the first degree, leaving the scene of an accident involving serious bodily injury, and violent crime. At the time of the offense he was on bond for two other felony offenses and had 3 prior felony convictions. He was sentenced to 28 years in prison.


Earnest Maynes

2018 - 2019

On April 28, 2018, Earnest Maynes was heard saying he was “going to blow things up” and he “wanted to watch the world burn.” He then proceeded to set nine fires in the middle of the night using gasoline in the area of the 5400 block of West 3rd Avenue, in Lakewood. The fires included attempting to light the gas tank of a car on fire, an attempt to burn down an apartment building with up to twenty-one people asleep inside, and burning down two horse barns, resulting in the deaths of seven horses and a dog. The fires caused many thousands of dollars in property damage. He had five prior felony convictions. He was convicted by guilty plea of two counts of arson, eight counts of cruelty to animals, and one count of criminal mischief, and was sentenced to 25 years in prison.