How a Passed-Out Shoplifter Led to Life in Prison for Killer Eric Fuhs

Update: In two separate posts published in May 2015, we reported about the arrest of Eric Fuhs, Derek Webb and Chad Baluska for the murder of 61-year-old Samuel Grady, Fuhs's uncle. Our previous coverage has been incorporated into this post.

More than a year later, Fuhs, nicknamed "Ice," has been sentenced for the crime — and the sentence was heavy. He'll never breathe air as a free man again.

Meanwhile, Webb is slated to be in court next month, when he'll face charges of first-degree murder, as well as two counts of felony murder and accusations of burglary and robbery.

And Baluska? He entered a guilty plea this past February, but he won't be sentenced until January — timing that suggests his testimony will be key in the Webb case. That's appropriate, since Fuhs and Webb were busted in the first place thanks largely to a previous Baluska warrant for, of all things, shoplifting, and his decision to fall asleep in a stolen truck.

Around 7:30 p.m. on May 6, 2015, according to Baluska's probable-cause statement, which is on view below, police responded to a residence at 4990 Green Court in Denver.

There, Grady lay dead on his kitchen floor.

Grady was found by his brother, who'd been asked by another sibling to check on him.

Although the police initially described the inquiry that followed as a "death investigation," that designation was soon changed to homicide, and no wonder: Grady was found to have died from a gunshot wound.

Shortly thereafter, the cops discovered that Grady's 1997 Ford truck was missing.

Surveillance footage subsequently surfaced showing that the vehicle had been used in a shoplifting incident inside a 7-Eleven at 3495 South Federal Boulevard.

This discovery was followed by the next break: Officers received word of a truck matching the vehicle's description parked on the 1500 block of West Byers Place, with a man passed out inside.

Baluska, the person in the truck, was still unconscious when cops arrived at the scene.

After stirring him, officers learned that Baluska was wanted on a shoplifting warrant — and after they determined that the truck was Grady's (the plates were gone, but it was ID'd using the vehicle identification number), he "agreed to talk," the statement says.

The narrative quotes Baluska as saying that he and three other parties went to 4990 Green Court to confront Grady.

Among his compatriots was a man he knew as Ice, who he said was Grady's nephew. Baluksa maintained that Ice "was having a problem with his uncle," the document continues, although the nature of the issue isn't described in the report.

Upon his arrival, Ice allegedly knocked on the door, then fired a shot through it as Grady was answering.

Next, Baluska said he kicked open the door to see Grady, who was on the floor.

Ice reacted by hitting his uncle in the head, Baluska went on. Shortly thereafter, the men rifled Grady's pockets and removed a truck key and a wallet with a debit card that Baluska admitted using to withdraw $200. Baluska added that he was the one who drove the truck away, the report says.

Upon seeing a photo, Baluska also confirmed that Ice and Fuhs were one and the same.

Webb's name doesn't appear in the probable cause statement, and there's no explanation why the report appears to mention four people when only three were charged. But this discrepancy doesn't seem to have troubled the jury, which found Fuhs guilty of two felony-murder counts and separate burglary and aggravated-robbery charges.

On October 17, according to the Denver District Attorney's Office, Fuhs received his punishment. For the first felony-murder count, which was merged with a second for sentencing, he was ordered to spend life in prison without parole. He also earned sixteen years and 32 years for burglary and aggravated robbery, respectively, with those sentences set to run concurrently. In addition, he will be required to pay $5,781.47 restitution in combination with his co-defendants.

Baluska, meanwhile, will be sentenced on January 6, 2017. His stipulated plea agreement: thirty years in prison. And Webb goes to trial on November 1 for first-degree murder after deliberation, two counts of felony murder, burglary and aggravated robbery.

Look below to see booking photos of Fuhs, Webb and Baluksa, plus the aforementioned documents.

Chad Baluska, et. al., Probable Cause Statement

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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts