News

Final Sentence

Convicted killer Alberto Valles will be sentenced Friday, February 22, to life in prison without the possibility of parole, likely becoming the last juvenile offender in the state to receive that adult sentence. He will bring the number of Colorado inmates serving life for crimes that they committed prior to turning eighteen to 46.

Valles was a passenger in a car, two days shy of his eighteenth birthday when he fired a rifle at a passing vehicle that he believed carried rival gangsters who had broken off of his Sureno set to form their own gang. One of the bullets killed Richard Scobee, who was in the back seat.

Valles was convicted of one count of murder with extreme indifference, four counts of attempted murder with extreme indifference, and one count of conspiracy to commit murder, also with extreme indifference. It was the second time Valles was tried for the case. Last year, a jury came back hung.

"The jury was the difference, we had a juror in the last trial who was, according to the accounts of the other jurors, unwilling to deliberate and engage with other jurors," said prosecutor Brian Sugioka. “The jurors were willing to deliberate in good faith this time, all of them.”

Because the Arapahoe County District Attorney’s office charged Valles as an adult and because he was convicted of first degree murder, the judge had no choice under Colorado law but to sentence him to life without parole.

The state legislature changed the law in 2006 to allow for juveniles convicted as adults of first degree murder a chance at parole in forty years. But the law wasn’t retroactive and a handful of cases, including Valles’s had yet to be tried.

“He (Valles) was stoic, he didn’t really show much emotion at all through either trial to be honest,” Sugioka said, noting that Valles had refused a plea deal for second-degree murder that would’ve likely allowed him to be free again one day. Valles will likely appeal the ruling. -- Luke Turf

KEEP WESTWORD FREE... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Jonathan Shikes is a Denver native who writes about business and beer for Westword.
Contact: Jonathan Shikes