One of two teenagers accused of killing an Englewood man in 2016 has pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in criminal court. The other suspect was denied on a request to be tried in juvenile …
One of two teenagers accused of killing an Englewood man in 2016 has pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in criminal court. The other suspect was denied on a request to be tried in juvenile court.
Louis Fernando Lara-Macias of Englewood, now 17, who pleaded guilty to second-degree murder Oct. 19, is set for sentencing Dec. 7. The Arapahoe County District Court has decided a stipulated sentence that may differ from the usual, or presumptive, sentencing for second-degree murder. Further information about the sentence was not released by the 18th Judicial District Attorney's Office.
The second suspect, 17-year-old Raheem Vaughn Benson of Littleton, still faces a first-degree murder charge in the fatal shooting of Nicholas Lewis, a 33-year-old chef at the Blackbird Public House restaurant in Denver.
Benson has a motions hearing set for Jan. 12, when attorneys will work out what witnesses and evidence will be allowed at trial. Benson's request to be transferred to juvenile court, denied on Oct. 18, could have allowed him incarceration in juvenile facilities, which offer rehabilitative measures like counseling. But he will be tried as an adult, and a seven-day trial is tentatively scheduled for March.
Lara-Macias waived his right to a reverse transfer hearing - where attorneys could have made the same request as for Benson - and opted instead for a plea deal as an adult. That deal dropped the original first-degree murder charge against him.
Lewis was shot to death shortly after 8:30 p.m. Oct. 1, 2016 in the 3000 block of South Acoma Street, about a block from his home. Authorities say he was walking home from the 7-Eleven at South Broadway and West Dartmouth Avenue nearby. Lewis was the father of a then-8-year-old son.
A motive for the crime has not been released, and records related to the case are suppressed and not available to the media.
At the time, investigators got information and surveillance videos from nearby residents that showed a light-colored station wagon or SUV speeding away from the area. Detectives later identified the car as a Jeep Grand Cherokee and learned that a Grand Cherokee had been stolen in Denver.
The same Grand Cherokee was involved in a felony menacing incident in Westminster. That vehicle was impounded and two 16-year-old suspects were arrested. Lara-Macias and Vaughn were both 16 at the time of the shooting in Englewood.
Lara-Macias said in an interview with an Englewood detective that he drove the Jeep and Benson carried out the shooting, according to court testimony from early this year. The two suspects were already in police custody on other charges when they were arrested Oct. 21, 2016, on suspicion of killing Lewis.
Originally, the two teenagers were charged with four counts: first-degree premeditated murder, first-degree felony murder, conspiracy to commit first-degree murder and attempted aggravated robbery.
Those charges were dropped against Lara-Macias because of the plea deal, but Benson still faces all four.
Because of state laws that took effect June 6, 2016, the sentencing range for a person younger than 18 years old who is charged as an adult for premeditated first-degree murder, also called first-degree murder after deliberation, is 40 years to life in prison but with ability to accrue "earned time," which cuts 10 days from their sentence per month as long as there is minimal participation in Department of Corrections programs. That means parole eligibility after about 30 1/2 years. Previously, a person would have been eligible for parole after 40 years, according to the 18th Judicial District Attorney's Office.