An Arapahoe County jury has returned a verdict of guilty to a single count of murder in the first degree for the Oct. 31, 2015, slaying and dismemberment of Rey Pesina.
On the evening of Oct. 31, 2015, Aurora Police Officers were dispatched to an overpass expansion bridge between the 1000 and 1200 blocks of I-225 on a report that a man had been murdered. The 911-caller stated that the victim had been murdered and his body dismembered under the bridge.
Officers responding to the location discovered that a camp had been erected and numerous individuals were residing under the rafters near the base of the bridge. Police observed large quantities of blood in a grassy area near Toll Gate Creek. Numerous chunks of human tissue were observed floating in the creek, and additional human remains were found burning in a nearby barrel.
Police also discovered Richard Alan Darling, 37, hiding in the grass. Darling was subsequently arrested and charged with one count of murder in the first degree.
Officers learned that Pesina had left the area earlier in the day following a brief altercation with Darling. When Pesina returned less than an hour later, Darling retrieved a .22 caliber bolt-action rifle and shot Pesina twice from a distance. Darling then used the butt of the rifle to repeatedly strike Pesina in the head and used an air pistol to shoot a pellet into Pesina’s face.
Several people observed the attack and wanted to get help for Pesina. Darling would not allow anyone to call the police and spent the next several hours using various knives and a hatchet to dismember Pesina’s body.
The trial began Jan. 16, 2018, and concluded with a guilty verdict on Jan. 25, 2018. Darling claimed that he acted in self-defense and under the protection of Colorado’s Make My Day Law, claiming that his makeshift campsite in an area where he had not legal right to camp gave him the same protections as a homeowner defending their family from a burglar.
“The defendant’s actions were nothing more than the execution of a helpless victim,” said Senior Deputy District Attorney Garrik Storgaard. “It wasn’t enough to senselessly murder Rey Pesina, the defendant brutally dismembered his body in an effort to hide his crime.”
“Thank you to members of the Aurora Police Department for their quick response and excellent investigation,” said Deputy District Attorney Danielle Jaramillo. “Their efforts afforded Rey Pesina and his family the justice and closure they deserve.”
District Attorney George Brauchler said: “This was a cowardly act of violence. The defendant shot the victim from a distance with a rifle. He and his taxpayer-funded lawyers had the temerity to claim that a little cardboard cubby that the defendant built under a bridge — a place where he lacked any legal right to reside at all — was a ‘dwelling’ and that Mr. Pesina was somehow trespassing, giving the defendant the right to cold-bloodedly shoot Mr. Pesina. Then, in Hannibal-Lecteresque fashion, he flensed and dismembered the victim. This absurdity of the killer’s defense was not lost on the Arapahoe County jury, who saw right through it. Our community owes a debt of gratitude to our hardworking prosecutors and the strong work of the Aurora Police Department.”
The Honorable Andrew C. Baum presided over the trial.