Aaron Tuneberg, the 30-year-old developmentally challenged man beaten during an alleged robbery last week, died from his injuries Tuesday, prompting Boulder prosecutors to file first-degree murder charges against the two 18-year-olds suspected in the attack.
Tuneberg — who prosecutors say was beaten with a baseball bat and golf club by two men trying to steal his Xbox video game console — passed away around 8:45 a.m. Tuesday, according to Steve Jacobson, an attorney for his family.
Family and friends of Tuneberg declined or did not respond to interview requests from the Daily Camera on Tuesday.
Prior to his death, Tuneberg's family issued a statement saying they were "devastated by this senseless tragedy."
Just hours after Tuneberg succumbed to his injuries, Boulder County District Attorney Stan Garnett filed a motion to amend the charges against Austin Holford and Luke Pelham.
They each are being charged with first-degree felony murder and second-degree murder with a deadly weapon. The first-degree murder charges were filed under the felony murder rule, which allows prosecutors to charge suspects with first-degree murder when a person is killed during the commission of another felony.
The teens originally were charged Monday with second-degree attempted murder, first-degree assault on an at-risk victim, aggravated robbery and first-degree burglary. The attempted-murder charges were dropped Tuesday.
Felony murder carries a sentence of life in prison. The second-degree murder charge, with the deadly weapon sentence enhancer, and the first-degree assault charge, with the at-risk sentence enhancer, are both Class 2 felonies and each carries up to 48 years in prison.
Both Holford and Pelham are scheduled for a status conference April 15. Pelham is being held on $100,000 bond, while Holford, who also has a misdemeanor failure-to-appear case, had his bond set at $500,000.
Tuneberg suffered serious head injuries after police said he was beaten unconscious at his apartment in the 5500 block of Arapahoe Avenue during a robbery on March 31.
According to an arrest affidavit, Pelham told police that Holford wanted to steal some of Tuneberg's property, including an Xbox video game console, so he could get money to leave Boulder.
Holford, who recently moved to the Boulder area and has a juvenile conviction for aggravated assault, convinced Pelham to participate in the assault by telling him Tuneberg had assaulted his girlfriend, according to court documents.
Holford told police he admitted to the assault and wanted "justice" for the assault on his girlfriend. He told investigators he hit Tuneberg multiple times in the head, back and knee, according to the affidavit.
The two men discarded the bat and a golf club — which later were recovered by investigators — nearby, before returning to Tuneberg's apartment to commit the theft, according to the affidavit.
Pelham called police after the assault; police found Tuneberg lying on the ground, severely injured.
Holford was found sleeping in a van parked in a lot near 30th Street and Iris Avenue and was arrested along with Pelham.
While the death has not yet been ruled a homicide by the Boulder County Coroner's Office, it is the first time murder charges have been filed in a current Boulder case since November 2011, when Charles "Eddie" Waters was charged with second-degree murder in the stabbing death of Johnny Mack Rasnick, 43.
The case against Waters ended in a mistrial.
The last death that was ruled a homicide within the city of Boulder was Michael Habay, who was shot by a Boulder police officer on Nov. 24 in what was ruled a justifiable shooting after Habay allegedly charged the officer with a knife.