One of the four teens suspected of driving to the home of a Cherokee Trail High School student in an incident that ended with the student's death could see trial as early as August.
Kenneth Alfonso Gallegos, who turned 18 in mid-December, pleaded not guilty at an arraignment Feb. 24 to charges of first-degree felony murder, aggravated robbery and conspiracy to commit aggravated robbery.
He and his co-defendants were accused in the May 8 shooting of Lloyd Alvin Chavez, 18, in east Centennial during what was planned as a robbery of vaping products Chavez sold, according to arrest affidavits.
Gallegos is set for a July 7 motions hearing and a trial starting Aug. 4, according to his attorney.
The Arapahoe County District Court, on Oct. 25, denied a motion to have Gallegos' case transferred to juvenile court, where he would have had a chance at a more lenient sentence if convicted.
Dominic Jarrod Stager, who is 17 or 18 based on sheriff's and court records, and 17-year-old Juliana Alexis Serrano both had their criminal cases dismissed and were transferred to juvenile court.
The fourth suspect, 17-year-old Demarea Deshawn Mitchell, still awaits a hearing in mid-March that will determine if his case will move to juvenile court. Judge Ben Leutwyler ruled on Feb. 18 that three of Mitchell's charges can proceed to trial, including those related to felony murder and aggravated robbery.
All four suspects were originally being prosecuted as adults.
Serrano and Stager were students at Cherokee Trail, and Gallegos was a Grandview High School student who had recently transferred from Cherokee Trail. Mitchell was identified in photos provided by a Cherokee Trail school resource officer.
The four suspects all were initially charged with first-degree felony murder, aggravated robbery, conspiracy to commit aggravated robbery and two “sentence enhancers” related to violent crime with a weapon and causing death, which apply if the case ends in a guilty plea or verdict, according to the 18th Judicial District Attorney's Office.
According to an affidavit, here's how the incident unfolded:
Chavez had sold vape products in transactions arranged over Snapchat, a social media application. The four suspects intended to steal Chavez's “juice” in a plan that began a day or two before he was shot, Serrano told an investigator.
The four suspects pulled up to Chavez's home near East Smoky Hill Road and South Picadilly Street, where he walked up to a window of the car and received cash from Serrano, court documents say. The documents allege that Chevez walked away without giving them the product, Serrano said, and Mitchell got out of the car and questioned Chavez about it.
Chavez threw Mitchell onto the lawn, according to Serrano's account, and that's when Chavez was shot. Vape products were later found on Chavez's lawn and in his room.
The four suspects sped away and were in shock because they didn't intend to for Chavez to be shot but, rather, to threaten him with the gun if he didn't give them the product, according to Serrano's account.
Serrano eventually said she didn't actually see the gun in anyone's hands but described it as a “smaller gun” and saw a laser shining on Chavez around the time he was shot.
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