The Last Six to Face Life for Juvenile Crimes

Before 2006, juveniles charged as adults and convicted of first degree murder in Colorado faced one sentence: Mandatory life without parole. Last summer, the state legislature showed some mercy by changing the law to allow "juvie lifers" to at least be eligible for parole after forty years. But the law was not retroactive and juvies convicted of crimes that happened before the law passed are still serving life. Two gang-bangers were the last juveniles to face life without the possibility of parole in Denver.

Fifteen-year-old Justin Box, who went by the nickname “Dirty” and considered himself a Crip, pulled a 9mm out and shot and killed 19-year-old Robert Lee on July 3, 2005 outside of a strip club. Box reportedly told his homies that he hoped he had killed Lee with one of the five shots he fired before he ran to South Salt Lake, where he was arrested in relation to a stabbing. For three weeks, Box lied to the police about his identity before he was sent back to Colorado to face life in prison after he was charged as an adult.

Although the jury found Box not guilty of first-degree murder, he was sentenced to 40 years in prison this past June after the jury found him guilty of second-degree murder.

About two weeks after Box killed Lee, a 17-year-old father with a reported IQ of 64, Jammie Lee Prince, an associate of Tre-Five Crips who was also a drug dealer, took revenge on some Mexican gangsters who he said had shot at him on four previous occasions. Prince killed one of them at 2151 Columbine Street and was charged as an adult with first degree murder, a charge which he beat, only to be found guilty of second-degree murder, attempted second-degree murder, second-degree assault and motor vehicle theft. He was sentenced to 80 years in the Department of Corrections. In October of that year, 16-year-old Josiah Ivy was convicted of first degree murder as an adult, for a 2002 random killing of a couple in Colorado Springs. Both he and his 19-year-old accomplice received two life without parole sentences. It was January, 2006 when Randall “Ruben” Romero shot and killed 19-year-old Francisco Padilla in Adams County. Romero was two months shy of his 18th birthday at the time of the killing, which investigators detailed as a beef over a few hundred dollars worth of cocaine. Romero shot Padilla as he ran, or execution style. In January 2007, Romero was convicted of first degree murder and sentenced immediately after the verdict to the only possible sentence: life without parole.

Down in Arapahoe County, Alberto Valles also faces life without parole for a 2005 murder in which he allegedly fired a rifle at a rival gangster’s car, killing one of the passengers in the backseat. The jury came back hung in the Valles trial earlier this month and the district attorney has refiled the charges, with a trial date set for November 27. Valles was two days shy of his 18th birthday at the time of the crime but charged as an adult.

Aside from Valles, Matthew Davies is the only other person facing life without parole for a crime he committed as a juvenile in Colorado. Davies is scheduled to go on trial September 25 in Colorado Springs for a murder he allegedly committed when he was 17 over an AK-47 that was part of a meth deal with the victim, 20-year-old Dustin Cisneros.

If convicted, Davies or Valles will be the last juvenile sentenced to life without parole in Colorado.

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Sean Cronin