Crime

Jan 14, 2011 11:30 PM by Matt Stafford

Guilty verdicts for Vasquez in the deaths of 2 Colorado Springs teens

It's been two years since two Colorado Springs teens were gunned down, in a fight that was said to be over an iPod. On Friday, 21-year-old Juan Vasquez was found guilty of two counts of second degree murder.

17-year-old Luis Burciaga and 18-year-old Uriel Rascon were each shot in the chest and killed during a fight on the east side of Colorado Springs in January 2009. It was at the Constitution Square Apartment Complex and in the park near by. Witnesses say there were about 30 people involved in the fight.

Originally the El Paso County Sheriff's office said it was over a stolen iPod, but after hearing the evidence in court, prosecutor Jim Bentley with the 4th Judicial District Attorney's office thinks otherwise.

"It's very unlikely that it was over an iPod," Bentley, a senior deputy district attorney, told reporters after hearing the verdict against Vasquez. He says that's because both Vasquez's friends as well as the friends of the victims each said they were accused of stealing an iPod, but no one said it was their iPod that was stolen.

The Sheriff's office said Burciaga -- who went to Sierra High School -- and Rascon -- who went to New Horizon School -- each had gang affiliations.

"There must be some other underlying reason for this that we may never find out about, but it's certainly senseless no matter what it was," Bentley says.

The District Attorney's office sought first degree murder charges against Vasquez, but the jury went with a lesser charge.

"After they had the opportunity to hear all the evidence and think about it, they made that determination that it was second degree murder," Bentley explains. However there are things that could make Vasquez's sentence longer -- called crimes of violence. Vasquez was convicted of three. Bentley explains that the jury took into consideration specific questions; like whether Vasquez was armed with a deadly weapon and whether his actions caused the deaths of the victims.

"Those are the kinds of aggravators that constitute a crime of violence in Colorado," says Bentley.

Vasquez faces 10 to 32 years for each of the second degree murder counts, and because of the crimes of violence they're to be served consecutively -- up to 64 years in all.

After the verdict, the victim's families, Vasquez's family and his attorney all left without commenting on the outcome.

Vasquez's sentencing is set for March 24th at 10:00 a.m.

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