Shawn Geerdes's booking photo.
Shawn Geerdes's booking photo.
Jefferson County Sheriff's Office

Shawn Geerdes's Marijuana-Grow Murder Used to Attack Legal Pot

Prosecutor George Brauchler, who's running for Colorado governor in 2018, is using Shawn Geerdes's conviction for murdering Jason Dosa nearly three years ago as an opportunity to criticize legal pot, even though the marijuana grow in which the two partnered was illegal.

A statement released by Brauchler after Geerdes was found guilty reads in part, "Whatever benefits there may be from the legalization of marijuana, eradicating violent crime associated with it is not one of them."

We first reported about Dosa's slaying in September 2015, and at the time, authorities either didn't know about a connection with marijuana or chose not to share the information publicly. As we noted then, a series of 911 reports about a burning car quickly turned into a murder investigation.

About 11:40 a.m. on September 20, 2015, according to the Jefferson County Sheriff's Office, numerous calls to 911 revealed that a car was on fire near the 9500 block of Cougar Road in southern Jeffco.

Here's a JCSO photo shot after the flames were extinguished.

A photo of the car in which Jason Dosa's body was found.
A photo of the car in which Jason Dosa's body was found.
Jefferson County Sheriff's Office

Inside the vehicle, emergency personnel discovered a body that was later identified as Dosa.

The sheriff's office quickly branded the situation as suspicious, and no wonder: Dosa had been shot to death.

Suspicion quickly turned to Geerdes, who was arrested at about 5:40 p.m. on September 23 after being pulled over by law enforcement on Highway 85 north of Meadows Parkway in Douglas County.

He was placed in custody without bond on suspicion of murder and arson.

Meanwhile, the Dosa family struggled to deal with the tragedy, as is clear from the introduction to the GoFundMe page set up after Jason's death:

On September 20, 2015, Jason Michael Dosa passed away from a senseless act in which we are still seeking answers for. There are no words right now to express the deep grief that this loss has caused his family. He was such a light in this world and was looked up to by so many. He leaves behind his loving wife Heather as well as his two beautiful children: Ryan and Greg. Jason was a family man who truly believed in the love of God. This love was apparent by the way he led his life and the way he impacted us all. He was a wonderful husband, a compassionate father, a caring son, a loyal brother and a valued friend. Anyone who knew Jason knows the depths of his heart and his willingness to be there for the ones he loved. We ask for financial blessings as he was the sole provider of his family.We also ask prayers for his family right now as they deal with the aftermath of his passing.

The GoFundMe page remains online at this writing. More than $9,400 has been pledged toward a goal of $100,000.

A photo of Jason Dosa and his family, from a GoFundMe page created after his death.
A photo of Jason Dosa and his family, from a GoFundMe page created after his death.

In the days following Geerdes's arrest, more information surfaced about his rap sheet. His criminal history stretched back nearly twenty years, with arrests including theft, burglary, drug possession and domestic violence.

Dosa, too, had been previously busted for domestic violence and burglary, among other things. However, his family maintained that he'd turned his life around. At a press conference staged with the cooperation of the JCSO, his brother shared a prepared statement that read in part, "Jason was a loving father who took no greater joy than spending time with his family and providing for others. My brother was a person who was always bigger than this world. He had a strong relationship with the Lord and demonstrated it daily through his actions and his ability to give. There has been a hole ripped in our hearts that will never be filled."

Geerdes's trial eventually took place in Elbert County, not Jeffco. Why? Because investigators came to the conclusion that Dosa was killed in the community of Agate, in a grow house he co-owned with Geerdes.

According to Brauchler's team with the 18th Judicial District DA's office, bloodstains and spent shell casings were found in the grow house, indicating that Dosa had been killed there, then transported more than an hour's drive north. The car was presumably set ablaze in an effort to destroy physical evidence.

Another photo of the torched car. The fire spread to the surrounding area.
Another photo of the torched car. The fire spread to the surrounding area.
CBS4 file photo

As for the circumstances of the slaying, Geerdes maintained that he killed Dosa while trying to defend himself. But in his own statement, Senior Deputy District Attorney Douglas Bechtel dismissed that theory.

"When reviewing a case, our office always evaluates the applicability of affirmative defenses, such as self-
defense or defense of premises — commonly known as Make My Day," Bechtel maintained. "However, the
defendant’s actions in this case of shooting the victim, putting the victim in the trunk of his own car, driving the
car 80 miles, dousing the car in gasoline and staring a car fire and wildfire shows that the defendant knew this
was not a justified shooting. Simply put: 'Actions speak louder than words.'"

The jury agreed, finding Geerdes guilty of second-degree murder, second-degree arson and setting a wildfire — because the fire from the burning car spread to the area immediately surrounding it. His sentencing hearing is slated for September 5, and he could receive a sentence of 96 years if he's found to be a habitual criminal.

Unlike many gubernatorial candidates, including fellow Republican Doug Robinson, Brauchler remains a relative hardliner when it comes to marijuana. That approach comes through in his post-conviction remarks about the Geerdes case, which suggest that legal cannabis hasn't ended black-market weed dealing or the societal ills associated with it.

The entire comment states: "Here is yet another violent crime related to marijuana. Whatever benefits there may be from the legalization of marijuana, eradicating violent crime associated with it is not one of them. I’m pleased my team and our law enforcement partners were able to bring this murderer to justice."

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