By Alan Prendergast
By Michael Roberts
By Michael Roberts
By Amber Taufen
By Patricia Calhoun
By William Breathes
By Michael Roberts
By Melanie Asmar
Anthony Garcia says the I.G.s pretty much broke up after Sean Cox killed Yarbrough. Cox is behind bars, as is Paul Martinez, who was arrested later on an unrelated charge. Ervin Schwegmann doesn't come around anymore, and Herasingh has moved out of his Cherokee Street apartment. "It's a lot different," Garcia says.
Like Sean Cox, Garcia says the I.G.s never were as sinister as their name implied. "It's not a gang or nothing like that," Garcia says. "The way the cops are making it out to be is we're all out for trouble. We was just a bunch of friends."
Why, if the group's motives were so innocent, were its members involved in so much violence last summer? "Everybody's got troubles in their life, you know?" Garcia says. "You kick with a certain amount of guys, you're going to have trouble--no matter what you do."
Sean Cox stands about six-foot-two. He has an athletic build, spiky brown hair and a mouth that twists easily into a smirk. He was born in Denver on September 7, 1974, the fourteenth and last child of a motel reservations clerk named Sylvia Hiedkamp. All thirteen of his brothers and sisters, Cox says, were the product of his mother's first marriage. Sean came along after Hiedkamp divorced her first husband and married Sean's father, a disabled Vietnam veteran who didn't work.
Hiedkamp's marriage to James Cox ended when Sean was about four years old, and Sean eventually lost contact with his father. A few years later Hiedkamp married her third husband, with whom Cox says he didn't get along very well. Sean dropped out of school in the ninth grade and began his slide into delinquency not long afterward. "I just started running around getting wild," he says.
Cox says he first got arrested as a young teenager, when he and a friend rode their bikes to a drive-in theater in northwest Denver, broke into a storage shed and starting smashing up light bulbs they found inside. In the following years, according to court records, Cox was arrested all over the metro area for a variety of crimes, including burglary, forgery, robbery and auto theft. He was sent to a "boot camp" for juvenile offenders and later placed in a foster home.
At the time of last year's shooting, Cox was on probation in Jefferson County for breaking into two cars in Indian Hills. He and a friend, Ralph Dickey, had happened upon the vehicles while driving through the small mountain community. The unlikely tourists were in the area because they'd heard there was a stuffed bear's head mounted on a mailbox on Seminole Road, and they wanted to have a look at it.
Instead, the two wound up breaking into a Nissan parked by the roadside and stealing a compact disc player. They then raided a large school bus that was being used to store an electrician's equipment and supplies. A witness saw the pair hauling away the valuable tools they found inside and called police.
Cox and Dickey were pulled over minutes later heading north on Highway 285. Dickey surrendered at the scene. Cox fled on foot but was later apprehended at a house near the Willow Springs golf course. For some reason, he had taken off most of his clothes and was wearing nothing but a T-shirt and his boxer shorts.
The Indian Hills venture "just kind of happened," says Cox. "You know, I ain't used to the mountains, so I see a school bus on the side of the road broken down and beat up and stuff, I think, `Hey, nobody owns it.' So I go playing around with it. I found all this stuff in there, so I'm thinking, `Yeah, it probably belongs to somebody. But they ain't here.'"
Cox pleaded guilty to one count of first-degree criminal trespass. In May 1994 a Jefferson County District Court judge sentenced him to probation rather than jail. Thirty-four days later, Bobby Yarbrough was dead--and Sean Cox had been charged with murder. "I wish they would have put him away for breaking into my car," says Karin Montague, the owner of the Nissan. "Maybe the other person would still be alive."
Independence Day fell on a Monday last year. The I.G.s planned to mark the occasion, Sean Cox says, by staging a nonstop three-day party for themselves and their friends. "We had just planned to party and kick back for the weekend," Cox says. "Drinking, smoking weed, relaxing, going out and doing things."
At the time, Cox was no longer employed, having just quit his job as the manager of the Burger King's graveyard shift. "I just didn't go no more," Cox says. "I was tired of it." The revelry started the evening of Friday, July 1, when Cox and his friends convened at Trevor Herasingh's place. It barely let up for the next 48 hours. Guests flowed in and out of the house the whole time, Cox says, many of them crashing overnight on beds, couches and the floor.
"Wherever you fell, you slept," says Cox. "I was probably the instigator, because I like to drink a whole lot. We'd wake up drinking and stuff. And then we usually would do an event together--we'd go out and see a movie or something, just to get out of the house. And then come back and just party some more or call some girls over and just have fun. Listen to music, dance, sing. Until that night that the shooting happened, it was just all fun."