A teenager who shot and killed an Aurora man during an illegal marijuana transaction was sentenced to 48 years in prison.
Arapahoe District Court Judge Darren Vahle on Monday sentenced Xavion Daewayne Johnson, 17, of Aurora, to 48 years in the Colorado Department of Corrections for the murder of Gayland Allen Jr., who was 24 years old when he was killed. Johnson pleaded guilty May 5, 2021, to one count of second-degree murder in Allen’s death. Other counts were dismissed as part of the plea agreement.
“There was no reason that Mr. Allen had to die,” said District Attorney John Kellner. “It’s a tragedy that his family and friends should not have been forced to confront. In this case, yet again we see illegal drugs playing a part in senseless violence.”
On Dec. 28, 2019, Allen met a girl in Aurora with whom he was acquainted to sell her some marijuana. She brought three other juveniles with her. When Allen got into the car to make the exchange, one of the juveniles shot him.
The shooter told the driver to go to Lookout Mountain, where the teens dragged Allen out of the car. Johnson threw him over a guardrail.
The teens went back to Aurora, and Johnson saw to it that the car was cleaned up. Later that day, three of the teens were taken into custody in Denver while shoplifting. They were in a stolen car and two of them had firearms.
Allen’s body was found on Lookout Mountain on Jan. 1, 2020. The ensuing investigation linked the murder to the teens. Johnson and the other three teens in the car were charged in Allen’s death. Two of the teens have received sentences to the Division of Youth Services, and one will be sentenced in July.
The teens in the car with Johnson told Aurora police that Johnson was upset because his cousin was killed in a shooting at the Aurora mall on Dec. 27, 2019. Before they met Allen on Dec. 28, Johnson told them, “I’m going to catch a body tonight, and I don’t care who it is.”
“There is no justice for the life that was taken … The defendant was just looking for someone to murder – it was completely senseless,” said Chief Deputy District Attorney Andrew Steers, who tried the case with Deputy District Attorney Ryan Chun. “Nothing about this sentence should diminish this act. I hope the defendant takes advantage of the opportunities he has while incarcerated.”
During the May 17 sentencing hearing, several friends and members of Allen’s family spoke to Judge Vahle.
“In a senseless act, children took matters into their own hands. There is no justice for the life that was taken,” said a friend who called Allen “my brother.”
She added: “Why didn’t one person say ‘This is wrong’? They knew right from wrong … They should be held accountable.”
Allen’s mother told the judge, “Their choices can never be taken back.”
Judge Vahle praised Allen’s family for their “grace and dignity.” He said the prison sentence was appropriate in this “utterly senseless” case.
“The community values life more than we can address in the juvenile system,” Vahle said. “The way to show that Gayland’s life matters is to say ‘no’ to this kind of violence. We can show mercy, but it is imperative to speak to the community and this family and say that this life matters.”
The defendant “took a gun, aimed it at (Allen’s) face and fired one bullet. Everyone knows that will cause death. This sentence is appropriate.”