Del Dawan Bankett, Jr. is only 24-years-old, but he's scheduled to spend the rest of his life in prison without the possibility of parole.
And the facts of the case against him, as laid out by the 18th Judicial District DA's Office, could hardly be colder or more brutal.
Prosecutors convinced a jury that Bankett murdered Arturo Arguelles-Chavez, a 22-year-old from Aurora, in front of his wife and two children over the sale of an iPhone — after which Bankett is said to picked up some grub at a 7-Eleven.
Arguelles-Chavez and his cousin had formed a business that repaired and then resold broken iPhones. On January 9, 2014, the cousin saw a Facebook notice placed by family members of Bankett about an iPhone for sale, and after making arrangements to buy it, he asked Arguelles-Chavez to pick up the gadget for $200.
The time of the exchange, after midnight on January 11, was unusual, as was the location: a parking lot behind a Target located near the 14000 block of East First Drive in Aurora. The location is seen in the following interactive graphic; if you have problems seeing the image, click "View on Google Maps."
Arguelles-Chavez arrived at the scene in his 1993 green Subaru station wagon with his wife and two kids — and the situation quickly went south.
First, the DA's office maintains, Bankett said he'd only sell the phone for $250, fifty dollars more than the agreed-upon price. After Arguelles-Chavez refused to pony up, Bankett went to a nearby apartment under the pretext that "he had to remove some personal information off the phone."
Did he actually duck into the apartment in order to get a gun? That's certainly a possibility, since he pulled a weapon on Arguelles-Chavez upon his return and demanded he hand over the cash — after which Bankett apparently swiped $190 from his victim's wallet and fired two shots into his chest as his family members looked on in horror.
Arguelles-Chavez was standing against the driver's side door when he was struck. Bankett fled on foot as Arguelles-Chavez's wife ran for help. But emergency responders were unable to save Arguelles-Chavez, who was pronounced dead at 12:49 a.m., just over twenty minutes after the trigger was pulled.
The DA's office says witnesses, including Arguelles-Chavez's wife, were able to identify Bankett, who stood firm even though some of the shooter's family members allegedly posted "intimidating messages" on the cousin's Facebook page.
Other witnesses surfaced as the investigation continued. One said that Bankett had been "sweating a great deal after the incident" and apparently worked up both thirst and an appetite, since he "went to 7-Eleven and bought some drinks and food" after the shooting.
Bankett was busted on January 15, and in April of this year, he was convicted of first-degree murder after deliberation, first-degree felony murder, aggravated robbery and a pair of sentencing enhancements. This month, a judge gave him life without the possibility of parole.
Our condolences to the friends, family and loved ones of Arturo Arguelles-Chavez.
Keep Westword Free... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Denver with no paywalls.