The official findings of an officer-involved shooting that occurred on June 1, 2023 in Aurora can be found here. If you have questions or need further assistance accessing this report, please call 720-874-8500 during normal business hours.
District Attorney John Kellner
Jury convicts man of manslaughter for fentanyl overdose death of 16-year-old girl
On May 3, 2022, an Arapahoe County jury found Jorge Alexander Che-Quiab (26) guilty of manslaughter and other charges for his role in distributing fentanyl to a 16-year-old victim who ultimately died of an overdose.
On August 7, 2020, officers with the Aurora Police Department responded to Che-Quiab’s home on a report of a possible overdose of a young female. A subsequent investigation revealed that Che-Quiab and another adult male supplied alcohol, marijuana, and fentanyl to a group of underage girls during a social gathering at Che-Quiab’s home. Che-Quiab admitted to police that one of the girls appeared to be suffering from symptoms of overdose, but decided to go to sleep rather than seek medical attention on her behalf.
The following morning, others awoke and noticed that the girl was not breathing and called 911. Che-Quiab admitted that he used the time before paramedics arrived to flush some of the remaining drugs down the toilet. Tragically, the victim was pronounced dead at the scene.
Investigators later learned that during the same gathering Che-Quiab sexually assaulted a 14-year-old girl to whom he had also supplied a large quantity of alcohol. A search of Che-Quiab’s apartment yielded approximately 300 pills containing fentanyl, disguised as blue “M-30” Oxycodone pills, in addition to several bricks of Heroin. The total street value of the recovered narcotics was in excess of $20,000.
Che-Quiab was charged with first degree murder (extreme indifference), felony murder, two counts of distribution of a controlled substance to a minor, two counts of possession of a controlled substance with intent to distribute, sexual assault of a child, enticement of a child, three counts of contributing to the delinquency of a minor, sexual assault (victim under 15), and attempted sexual assault.
Che-Quiab pleaded not guilty to the charges, and a jury trial commenced on April 25, 2022. Following the six-day trial, the jury returned guilty verdicts on charges of manslaughter, two counts of distribution of a controlled substance to a minor, two counts of possession of a controlled substance with intent to distribute, sexual assault of a child, and sexual assault (victim under 15).
“This defendant used alcohol and extremely dangerous drugs to manipulate these girls for his own selfish purposes,” said Chief Deputy District Attorney Chris Gallo, who tried the case with Chief Deputy Darcy Kofol. “When it became clear one of them needed immediate medical care, he callously chose to do nothing.”
A sentencing hearing is scheduled for July 21, 2022 at 3:00 pm. Che-Quiab faces a term of imprisonment of eight to 116 years to life.
“This is yet another tragic case underscoring the danger that fentanyl and other synthetic opioids pose,” District Attorney John Kellner said. “My office will continue to aggressively prosecute those who distribute these poisons in our community.”
The Honorable Judge Darren Vahle presided over the trial.
Jury convicts man who fired at Jeep and hit protesters on Interstate-225 in Aurora
An Arapahoe County jury convicted Samuel Young, 24, of seven felony charges on Thursday, for the shooting on I-
225 where he fired at a blue Jeep driving past the protest crowd and wounded two bystanders on the side of the roadway.
On July 25, 2020, after a protest demonstration at the Aurora Municipal Center, a crowd of protesters marched onto Alameda Avenue and then Interstate 225. The crowd eventually took over all lanes of traffic on both sides of the interstate and continued marching northbound. Despite attempts to block traffic at several intersections, some motorists still approached the area of the protest crowd which was not authorized to be on the interstate. After the driver of a blue Jeep drove onto the interstate and was intentionally hit by a truck associated with the protest group, he continued driving northbound as some pedestrians threw objects at the Jeep driving in the middle lanes of traffic. Samuel Young stepped from the shoulder of the interstate and fired 5 shots at the Jeep as it tried to drive past the crowd. Two shots hit the back of the Jeep after it drove by the Defendant, and two shots struck and wounded bystanders on the opposite side of the interstate. One victim was struck in the thigh and one victim was hit on the side of the head. The driver and passenger of the blue Jeep were not injured. There were no reports that anyone was injured by the Jeep and it did not exceed the speed limit.
Investigators identified the Defendant, Samuel Young, based on witnesses and pictures from the protest. He admitted he was the suspected shooter after media bulletins were publicized the next day. Investigators collected video footage and pictures from a news helicopter, cell phone cameras, social media sites, stationary traffic cameras, and a drone camera operated by a witness in the protest crowd. The Aurora Police Department and District Attorney’s Office investigated the incident, collecting witness statements, ballistics evidence, and electronic data from the vehicles involved.
Mr. Young pleaded not guilty to all charges and proceeded to jury trial on March 22, 2022. The jury deliberated and returned verdicts on March 31, 2022, finding him guilty of seven counts, including four counts of Attempted Reckless Manslaughter, two counts of Second Degree Assault (heat of passion), and one count of Illegal Discharge of a Firearm.
“This was an irresponsible and reckless decision that put countless lives in danger” District Attorney John Kellner said. “The Defendant brought a handgun to a protest taking over a major interstate and it’s fortunate that no one was killed by his violent conduct that day.”
Assistant District Attorney Tom Byrnes handled the case with Deputy District Attorney Mike Mauro. Byrnes told the jury “the Defendant’s decision to shoot at the Jeep was intentional and it was reckless to fire his gun 5 times in the direction of the crowd. Those decisions were not justified by any reasonable or legitimate claim that he was defending others.”
A sentencing hearing is set for May 17, 2022. Young faces up to 3 years in prison on each of the Attempted Manslaughter charges and the Illegal Discharge conviction, and up to 4 years for the Second Degree Assault convictions.
The Honorable District Court Judge Ben Leutwyler presided over the jury trial.
Man sentenced to 200 years to life in prison for sexually assaulting three children
An Arapahoe County District Court Judge sentenced Brian Eugene Barcelona, 35, to 200 years to life in prison for sexually assaulting three children as part of a pattern of abuse that spanned a 4-year period.
On August 26, 2018, the Aurora Police Department began an investigation after an Aurora father reported that his son had been sexually assaulted by his adult cousin. Investigators discovered that, between 2015 and 2018, Barcelona had repeatedly sexually assaulted the boy and his two siblings whose ages ranged between 10 and 13. Investigators also found photographs of the sexual abuse on Barcelona’s cell phone when he was arrested. Barcelona pleaded not guilty to the charges that followed, and the case proceeded to trial on October 25, 2021.
Following a 7-day jury trial, Barcelona was found guilty of 12 counts of sexual assault of a child by one in a position of trust, and four counts sexual exploitation of a child.
Senior Deputy District Attorney Danielle Jaramillo, who tried the case with Deputy District Attorney Abby Hegarty, put the defendant’s conduct into context. “In all my years of prosecuting these types of cases, I struggle to recall another one involving such severe abuse or brazen conduct,” Jaramillo said. “The defendant felt so secure in his ability to exploit his position of trust to silence these children that he actually kept photographs as trophies.”
The honorable Judge Joseph Whitfield, who presided over the trial, noted the long-lasting impact that the Barcelona’s actions are likely to have on the victims and their family before imposing the sentences consecutively, effectively ensuring a life sentence.
“This predator selfishly sacrificed the well-being of his own relatives to satisfy his depraved desires,” District Attorney John Kellner said. “I am grateful for the bravery of these young victims who came forward to put a stop to his destructive manipulation.”
A jury has found Samuel Isaiah Birch, 32, guilty of the 2020 robbery and murder of a convenience-store clerk in Arapahoe County.
On November 26, 2020, deputies with the Arapahoe County Sheriff’s Office responded to a report of a shooting at the Circle K convenience store located at 8263 South Quebec Street in Centennial. There, deputies found the store clerk suffering from a single gunshot wound to the abdomen.
Upon reviewing the store’s surveillance footage, deputies learned that a man wearing a mask and hooded sweatshirt approached the clerk and asked for a carton of cigarettes. The man then calmly pointed a long barreled revolved through the plexiglass divider and demanded everything in the register. “Dude, it’s going to be you, your stomach, or the money” the armed man said. “I can shoot you when I leave or I can shoot you right now.” After the clerk complied with the demands, the robber said “thank you,” before shooting the clerk in the stomach and walking out.
The victim was transported to the hospital where he tragically succumbed to his injuries. Investigators were able to identify Birch as the shooter by connecting him to a similar armed robbery of another convenience store that occurred just two hours earlier.
“This was an entirely senseless act of inhumanity,” District Attorney John Kellner said. “This defendant needlessly ended the life of an innocent man, who had done nothing but comply with his demands.”
Birch was found guilty of first-degree murder (after-deliberation and felony-murder), two counts of aggravated robbery, and tampering with physical evidence. Birch pleaded not guilty to the charges and the case proceeded to trial on March 7, 2022. The jury returned guilty verdicts on all counts on March 10, 2022.
“I want to thank the men and women of the Arapahoe County Sheriff’s Office, and the witnesses who came forward with information about this case,” said Assistant District Attorney Tom Byrnes, who tried the case with Deputy District Attorney Lisa Gramer. “Their quick work making an identification in this case took a very dangerous suspect off the streets.”
A sentencing hearing is set for April 22, 2022. Birch faces life in prison for the first-degree murder convictions, and additional years in prison for the other charges.
The honorable Judge Ryan Stuart presided over the trial.
Man sentenced to six years in prison for inciting a riot that burned the Aurora Municipal Courthouse.
An Arapahoe County Judge sentenced Jordan Joseph White, 20, to six years in the department of corrections for his leadership role in a siege on the Aurora Municipal Courthouse during the summer of 2020.
On July 25, 2020, a large group of protesters converged upon the Aurora Municipal Center Complex. The complex is comprised of multiple buildings including the Municipal Center, Aurora Police Headquarters, the Aurora History Museum, and the Aurora Municipal Courthouse. Anticipating acts of property damage, many of the windows on the ground level had already been boarded up.
After a march that shut down traffic on several roadways including Interstate 225, the protesters returned to the complex. From there, the protest devolved into a riot as several participants wearing helmets, goggles, and masks covered surveillance cameras and began tearing down a fence. The rioters also launched commercial-grade fireworks horizontally at police officers who were staged in the area.
Shortly thereafter, rioters began to tear down the protective boarding that had been put up on the courthouse, and used it to smash windows. Fireworks were then set off inside the building, causing further destruction. Five courthouse employees were trapped inside the building while the rioters amassed more than $74,000 in property damage.
During the investigation, White was identified on surveillance video wearing military-style fatigues, smashing windows, directing other rioters, and throwing lighted fireworks into the building through the broken windows. Prosecutors charged White with six counts: first degree arson, inciting a riot, criminal mischief, engaging in a riot, and disobedience of public safety orders under riot conditions. As part of a plea agreement, White pleaded guilty to two felony counts: inciting a riot and fourth degree arson. Sentencing was left open to the court.
“An attack on a courthouse, on the place people go to seek justice, is an attack on the rule of law itself,” District Attorney John Kellner said. “Violence and destruction are not how we solve problems in our democracy, and this sentence should deter anyone who thinks to do this in our community.”
At the sentencing hearing held on March 4, 2022, Deputy District Attorney Justin Friedberg showed pictures and videos of the extensive property damage, but also noted the acts also took a human toll. “Twenty-seven people had to come in the next day and just sit down in the rubble and get back to work,” Friedberg said. “The aftermath only speaks to the violent nature of the acts, but doesn’t’t speak at all to the trauma of the judges and court staff that had to return to that scene.”
Witnesses during the sentencing hearing spoke about their experiences inside the building while rioters tried to set it on fire and the emotional trauma felt by court staff. Aurora Police Chief Vanessa Wilson spoke about the impact on the officers and the possibility the fire could have destroyed evidence held at the police department.
“This was not an act of civil disobedience,” Judge Ryan Stuart said before imposing the sentence. “Attacks on our temples of democracy—our capitols and our courthouses—must be met with swift justice.” In addition to the prison sentence, the Defendant was ordered to pay $74,463.50 in restitution to the city of Aurora.
Man sentenced to 39 years in prison for stabbing his mother in the neck.
A Douglas County judge sentenced a man to 39 years in prison for charges stemming from attacks on his girlfriend and mother in 2018. In December 2021, a jury found Samuel Edward Wise, 32, guilty of five charges including attempted first-degree murder.
On May 29, 2018, deputies with the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office responded to a reported stabbing in a home in unincorporated Douglas County. There they encountered Wise wielding a knife in the driveway. During a brief standoff, Wise picked up a rock and lunged at the deputies, but the deputies were able to take him into custody without further incident.
A subsequent investigation revealed that after a day of drinking Wise assaulted his girlfriend in the basement of the home. When she hid from him in a bathroom, Wise attempted to break down the door with an axe. Wise’s mother intervened and when she attempted to call 911, Wise stabbed her in the neck with a folding knife.
Wise was charged with seven counts stemming from the incident. He pleaded not guilty and the case proceeded to trial on November 30, 2021. At the conclusion of the four-day trial the jury returned guilty verdicts on five counts: attempted first-degree murder, first degree assault, felony menacing, third degree assault, and criminal mischief.
During the sentencing hearing, Douglas County District Court Judge Theresa Slade noted that Wise’s mother was lucky to have survived the attack.
“This terrible incident is a disturbing reminder of the dangerous and chaotic situations law enforcement are often called upon to defuse,” District Attorney John Kellner said. “I’m grateful for the dedicated deputies whose quick actions prevented this defendant from causing any further harm.”
Senior Deputy District Attorney Valerie Brewster, who tried the case with Deputy District Attorney Angela Compton, echoed that sentiment. “We’re thankful that the level-headed response of these deputies saved this family from what could have been even more heartache,” Brewster stated. “We hope this sentence brings them closure and allows them to start the next chapter of their lives.”
Douglas Co. man who attacked wife with sword sentenced to prison
A Douglas County man who attacked his wife with a Samurai sword in a horrific domestic violence incident was sentenced to 14 years in prison.
Thomas Averill Keller, 59, pleaded guilty Feb. 14 to one count of attempted second-degree murder. Other charges were dismissed as part of the plea agreement. Douglas County District Court Judge Theresa Slade immediately sentenced Keller to 14 years in the Colorado Department of Corrections.
“Violence is not a normal part of any relationship,” said District Attorney John Kellner. “This defendant attacked his wife and nearly killed her. His circle of blaming her for his aggression and then apologizing and saying it will never happen again ends here.”
On Dec. 19, 2019, Keller’s wife frantically called 911. She told the dispatcher her husband was out of control with a knife, and she didn’t feel safe. While the wife was on the phone, the 911 dispatcher heard her scream, “Tom get away from me, put that sword away!”
The wife was hiding in a bedroom closet. Keller broke through the door and swung a katana type sword at her. The blow hit her on the wrist and severed two arteries and three tendons.
The wife was able to shove her way past Keller and run into the street, where an arriving deputy immediately applied a tourniquet. Doctors later said the tourniquet saved her life.
Other deputies found Keller in the house and took him into custody after a brief standoff.
“This defendant had been previously charged for felony level domestic violence with the same victim and received treatment; yet here we are in court sentencing him again after another domestic violence offense,” said Senior Deputy District Attorney Valerie Brewster, who prosecuted the case with Deputy District Attorney Sherri Giger. “The defendant tried to blame alcohol and at times the victim for his behavior. This sentence is a clear message that the defendant and the defendant alone is responsible for his actions. But for the strength and courage of this victim the People would not have been able to hold him accountable.”
If you are in an abusive relationship, get help from the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (723) or thehotline.org
A man who shot and killed a family friend on Christmas Day after losing money to him in a game will spend the rest of his life in prison.
On Feb. 18, an Arapahoe County jury found Curtis Davis-Barnes, 38, guilty of first-degree murder and other charges in the Dec. 25, 2019, death of Aarion Derritt, who was 39 years old when he was shot to death. Arapahoe District Court Judge Darren Vahle immediately sentenced Davis-Barnes to life without parole in the Colorado Department of Corrections, the mandatory penalty for a first-class felony under Colorado law.
“It’s hard to believe that a friendly holiday gathering would end in murder, but that it is exactly what happened here,” said District Attorney John Kellner. “This defendant was unhappy that he was losing a game, so he calmly retrieved a firearm and shot the victim to death. I am glad we were able to obtain justice for the family of the victim, although nothing will bring back Mr. Derritt.”
At 2 a.m. on Dec. 25, 2019, Aurora police were called to a home where a man had been shot. They found Derritt in the basement, with a gunshot to the head and several more to the torso.
The homeowner told officers that family and friends had come together for a Christmas party. Several went downstairs and were playing poker and dice. Witnesses said that as the games progressed, Davis-Barnes lost $600-$700 to Derritt and became angry.
Davis-Barnes went upstairs and came back down with a handgun. He shot Derritt in the head and chest, grabbed cash out of his pockets and fled the home in car.
“By all accounts, Mr. Derritt did nothing to provoke the defendant. He did nothing to instigate a confrontation or incite any violence,” said Chief Deputy District Attorney Jason Siers, who tried the case with Senior Deputy District Attorney Casey Brown. “He was playing a game, and he ended up shot dead when he should have been able to go home and celebrate Christmas.”
“Mr. Derritt was the life of the party, and his family was crushed by the unexpected loss of their beloved son, brother, and father,” Brown said. “Mr. Derritt gifted a portion of his earnings back to the defendant prior to the shooting, but the defendant was dissatisfied with Mr. Derritt’s generosity. The defendant eliminated any possibility of Mr. Derritt surviving, and he spent the remainder of Mr. Derritt’s money hiding from police.”
The jury convicted Davis-Barnes of:
• 1 count Murder 1 after deliberation, a Class 1 felony
• Aggravated robbery, a Class 3 felony
• Felony menacing, a Class 5 felony
• Criminal possession of identification documents, a Class 1 misdemeanor
The Second Chances warrant clearance event in Arapahoe County on Feb. 12 was a great success: 101 warrants were cleared. (Some people had more than one warrant)
These are people who for one reason or another fell out of compliance and a judge issued a warrant for their arrest. Whether it was because of a missed court date, an unpaid fine or unmet probation obligations, these people went about life knowing that any random contact with law enforcement could lead to an arrest, booking and jail.
“The criminal justice system can be complicated, and it’s not perfect,” said District Attorney John Kellner. “When my team proposed a way to get willing defendants back on track, I was all in. This event shows that collaboration can lead to results that make a meaningful difference in people’s lives.”
18th Judicial District Chief Judge Michelle Amico was an early supporter of the idea. The Office of the Public Defender and the Probation Department helped spread the word. Arapahoe County had the space, and community partners like AllHeath Network, Stride, Aurora Mental Health, Tri County Health and Arapahoe County Human Services signed up to offer services on a Saturday. Translators were on hand, and the Collections office was open to clear up any related fines.
The day arrived, and participants started lining up, some with family and supporters in tow. Many had traffic cases, first-time DUI arrests or petty offenses. There were 31 low-level felonies, such as drug possession.
Defendants told of flying in from Tennessee and Ohio, and driving in from Nebraska. There had been a glitch in transferring probation, they said, and they wanted to clear things up.
One man fell out of compliance on a juvenile case, and thus he had a 2013 warrant hanging over his head. He feared applying for jobs, government benefits or a drivers license; he worried he would be involved in a traffic accident or be a victim of a crime and taken to jail by responding officers.
He showed up to the event, checked in with the public defender, and his attorney worked with a prosecutor. He was able to appear before Judge Amico, enter into a plea agreement and resolve the case.
“We want every defendant to comply with court orders, but we understand that sometimes life gets in the way,” said Senior Chief Deputy District Attorney Vicki Klingensmith, the lead from the DA’s office in organizing the event. “And once you fall out of compliance, figuring out how to straighten things out can be daunting. It was wonderful to see that burden instantly lifted for so many people.”
The Arapahoe County Sheriff’s deputies who were at the event to provide security for Judge Amico’s temporary courtroom agreed.
For every warrant that was cleared, the sheriff’s office estimated it would have cost them:
• 2 hours for the deputy making the arrest
• 4 hours for the booking process at the jail
• $128 if the defendant spent the night in jail
“The Second Chances warrant event displayed the collaborative efforts of community partners to allow individuals to navigate through their warrant and the criminal justice system without the fear of being held at the county jail,” said Arapahoe Sheriff Tyler Brown. “I commend Chief Judge Amico and District Attorney Kellner and all the community partners for their forward thinking and willingness to try new approaches to criminal justice accountability.”
One woman walked through the door hesitantly, not long before the event was scheduled to end.
“My friends told me this was a trap,” she told the volunteers at the front door. “But I told them I didn’t care, I wanted to get this cleared up.”
About 90 minutes later, she went out the same door and gave the volunteers a thumbs-up. They cheered as she left with a big smile on her face.