The Colorado Court of Appeals upheld the murder conviction Thursday of a Longmont man found guilty of shooting and killing his friend in north Boulder in 2009.
Joseph Abeyta, 45, was convicted of first-degree murder by a Boulder County jury in October 2009 in connection with a daylong crime spree that ended with the shooting death of William Andrews, 47, of Boulder.
Abeyta also was convicted of first-degree burglary, four menacing charges and two weapons charges.
"I'm very pleased with the decision," said Boulder County District Attorney Stan Garnett, who was one of the prosecutors who tried the case. "(The Colorado Court of Appeals) go through every issue pretty thoroughly, so it's always good when they affirm one of our trials."
According to police, Abeyta and Andrews burglarized a Longmont man's home on Jan. 23, 2009, then entered a Longmont woman's home and fired a gun over her head. The men later drove to a Boulder apartment, where Abeyta threatened the lives of a woman and her teenage daughter before Andrews persuaded him to leave, police said.
Abeyta drove north on Broadway and pulled off on Sumac Avenue, where he shot Andrews three times with a sawed-off shotgun.
In the appeal, Abeyta argued the charges in the robbery and the shooting should have been separated and given different trials. But according to documents, the court ruled that while the acts did occur in separate locations over a span of about nine hours, "the record supports the trial court's findings that the crimes were intertwined. All of them occurred on the same day, in the same general vicinity, with the deceased present, and involved the same weapon."
Added Garnett, "This defendant engaged in a really violent crime spree which culminated in the murder of William Andrews. It would have been tough to separate those out."
Abeyta also argued the trial judge was wrong to deny Abeyta's request to bring in an expert to testify about blackouts, but the court ruled Abeyta would not be testifying as to what he remembered or did not remember and so the testimony would not have been relevant.
The court of appeals rejected arguments by Abeyta that the judge was wrong to deny him a continuance and a hearing to discuss his dissatisfaction with his defense counsel.
Abeyta is currently serving a life sentence without the possibility of parole at the Sterling Correctional Facility.
The Abeyta case was one of three murder convictions in Boulder County in 2009.
"We've really cracked down on drug dealing in our judicial district, and this was a case rooted in methamphetamine," Garnett said. "We're pleased we haven't had any murders for about two years and this sort of murder in quite a while. We like to think our prioritizing of those drug activities are cutting down on crimes like this."
Contact Camera Staff Writer Mitchell Byars at 303-473-1329 or firstname.lastname@example.org.