One of the earliest entries in our Mile High Murder archive involves a May 2009 arson-related murder in Aurora that led to the arrests of Douglas Taylor and Coy Dunn. The victim in the case was subsequently identified as Jose De Jesus Martinez Espinoza.
More than a year later, Taylor has been convicted thanks in part to testimony by Dunn. Get details and see photos of Taylor and Dunn below.
Here are the first two releases from the Aurora Police Department in relation to the crime:
Information released on May 30, 2009
Major Crimes/Homicide detectives have arrested two suspects on 1st Degree Arson and Attempt Homicide charges stemming from the fire at 2301 Emporia Street during the early morning hours of May 28, 2009.
Major Crimes/Homicide detectives have worked around the clock to gather evidence and to identify and locate the suspects. They received valuable assistance from the Colorado Bureau of Investigations Arson investigator and the Aurora Fire Department Arson Investigators.
Both suspects were arrested in Commerce City by the Aurora Police Fugitive Apprehension and Surveillance Team (FAST) and the local Fugitive Location and Apprehension Group (FLAG). Two residences and one vehicle are being searched by detectives in Commerce City today.
Suspect #1 is identified as Taylor, Douglas Jr., DOB: 05.01.1975.
Suspect #2 is identified as Dunn, Coy Thomas Marty, DOB: 12.07.1987.
One victim remains hospitalized in critical condition. His identity has not yet been confirmed. Two other victims who were injured in the fire were treated and released from a local hospital.
Seventeen additional occupants of the apartment complex escaped uninjured, in part due to the courageous actions of 4 patrol officers who spotted the fire, evacuated the building and rescued the most seriously injured victim.
Detectives have reason to believe that the intended targets of the arson escaped unharmed, and that the injured victims had nothing to do with the motive for the arson.
Major Crimes/Homicide detectives are working with Aurora Fire Department Arson Investigators searching the crime scene for additional evidence this afternoon.
DATE: June 1, 2009 NATURE: Homicide/1st Degree Arson
The critically injured victim in the arson at 2301 N. Emporia Street died in a local hospital at approximately 2:00 a.m. on Sunday, May 31, 2009. Positive identification has still not been established.
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The victim, Espinoza, wasn't the target of the arson, prosecutors insisted. Instead, they believed that Taylor was taking revenge on an ex-girlfriend -- and with assistance from Dunn, who pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and attempted first-degree murder, they managed to convince a jury.
Page down to see a larger photo of Taylor and to read details about his conviction courtesy of the 17th Judicial District Attorney's Office:
Ex-Boyfriend Found Guilty of Burning Down Apartment Complex, Killing A Man
17th Judicial District Attorney Don Quick announced today that Douglas Taylor (dob: 05/01/1975) was found guilty of for burning down an apartment complex, killing one man and injuring others.
Evidence was presented at trial that on May 25, 2009 at approximately 1:35 AM, Aurora Police Officers were on patrol in the area of Emporia Street in Adams County when they heard screaming and loud commotion from an apartment building. The officers observed residents breaking out windows and jumping to the ground as the building was engulfed in smoke and fire. While attempting to enter the building, officers heard a loud explosion at the north side of the complex. After gaining limited entry into the common hallway, officers were able to remove a downed resident, later identified as Jose De Jesus Martinez Espinoza (dob: 04/27/1957). Mr. Martinez transported to University Hospital where he was pronounced dead the next morning from his injuries of third degree burns over 90% of his body.
Witnesses testified that Taylor believed his ex-girlfriend was in the Emporia Street apartments visiting a friend that day. One witness testified that Taylor had confessed starting a fire at a house one month prior. Another witnesses testified that Taylor was known to threaten to burn down people's houses when he was angry. The investigation by the Aurora Fire Department determined that the fire had been set deliberately in two locations.
Taylor's accomplice, Coy Dunn (dob: 12/07/1987) testified that he assisted Taylor in obtaining the gasoline to start the fire, accompanied Taylor to the apartment building and witnessed Taylor ignite the fire. Dunn pled guilty on August 27, 2010 to Second Degree Murder and Attempted First Degree Murder. He will be sentenced on October 21, 2010.
After two hours of deliberation, an Adams County jury found Taylor guilty of First Degree Felony Murder (F1), First Degree Murder (F1), 10 counts of Attempted First Degree Murder (F2), and First Degree Arson (F3).
District attorney Quick states, "I am grateful to the Aurora Police Department for their investigation and for the outstanding work of my prosecutors, Tim McCormack and Caryn Datz."
Adams County District Court Judge Patrick Murphy immediately sentenced Taylor to life in prison plus 275 years.