Update: Austin Holford, Luke Pelham face murder charges after beating victim dies

Update: Last week, we told you about the baseball bat beating of Boulder's Aaron Tuneberg; see our previous coverage below. Now, unfortunately, Tuneberg has died from his injuries. As a result, the charges against Austin Holford, seen here, and Luke Pelham, a pair of eighteen-year-olds previously arrested for the assault, have been upgraded to first-degree murder for what allegedly began as a quest to steal an Xbox.

Pelham, though, is being portrayed as a dupe who was manipulated into taking a passive role in the tragedy.

Tuneberg's family has described Aaron as being developmentally disabled, making him vulnerable to the very kind of situation that eventually took his life.

Just shy of midnight on March 31, as we've reported, Pelham called police to tell them about the Tuneberg beating.

In an affidavit subsequently obtained by the Boulder Daily Camera, Pelham is quoted as saying that Holford, an acquaintance, talked him into coming along because he said Tuneberg had attacked his girlfriend. However, the real goal was allegedly stealing the Xbox, which Holford is said to have planned to sell in order to obtain money to leave Boulder.

While Holford pummeled Tuneberg with the bat, Pelham told investigators, he stood watch at the bottom of stairs leading to the victim's apartment.

By the way, Holford reportedly has a history of assaults predating what happened on the 31st.

Over the weekend, we were contacted via e-mail by Pelham's mom, who wrote, "My son Luke did not do this and should not be where he is," adding that more material would be coming out soon. That information includes the assertion that Pelham has the mental capacity of a child and therefore is easy to persuade.

Nonetheless, both Holford and Pelham are currently facing the same charges from the Boulder District Attorney's office: first-degree felony murder and second-degree murder with a deadly weapon.

Whether that will remain the case over the long haul is unknown at this time. But the one, indisputable fact remains Tuneberg's passing yesterday morning. Our sincere condolences to his friends, family and loved ones.

Look below to see mug shots of Pelham and Holford, followed by a 7News report about the latest developments and our previous coverage.

Continue to see our previous coverage about the Aaron Tuneberg attack, including photos and a video. Original post, 9:50 a.m. April 2: Austin Holford, the eighteen-year-old seen here, was sleeping in a van when Boulder police arrested him in the case of a baseball-bat attack that left thirty-year-old biking enthusiast Aaron Tuneberg critically injured.

And eighteen-year-old Luke Pelham was also taken into custody, even though he's the person who alerted the authorities to the beating in the first place.

Photos, a video and details about this brutal incident below.

The most recent photos of Holford on his Facebook page are consistent with a certain theme, as it were. Here's one....

...and here's another: As for Tuneberg, he's a fan of low-rider bikes. He was featured in a 2010 Denver Post story about how Boulder is wired for cycling, with a Post photog snapping a shot of him looking fly in a zoot suit.

He also shared the following YouTube clip spotlighting customized bikes:

Now, however, Tuneberg is fighting to come back from a terrible assault that took place on the 5600 block of Arapahoe Avenue in Boulder. The area is captured in the following interactive graphic; if you have problems seeing the image, click "View Larger Map."

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At about 11:58 p.m. on March 31, according to the Boulder Police Department, Pelham called dispatchers about Tuneberg, who was found in his apartment suffering from serious head injuries. At last report, he remains hospitalized in critical condition.

Pelham allegedly told investigators that he'd stopped by the place earlier in the evening to pick up something Tuneberg had borrowed from a mutual friend. As he was leaving, Pelham said he saw a man on the stairs carrying a baseball bat and then heard the sound of a beat-down coming from Tuneberg's abode.

During his interrogation, Pelham stressed that he was scared by what he heard and split. He added that he walked home before calling police, almost an hour after Tuneberg was clubbed.

Meanwhile, investigators found what's described as "evidence they believed was connected to the assault" in a parking lot near Tuneberg's home. Why this stuff and other information gathered by the cops pointed them toward Pelham and Holford, another person said to be acquainted with Tuneberg, hasn't been revealed at this point. However, they arrested Holford on suspicion of first-degree burglary and first-degree assault at 4:20 a.m. in a parking lot near 30th and Iris, an intersection seen in this Google Map:

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As for Pelham, who'd voluntarily come to the police station to tell his story, he was cuffed in regard to the same charges. He and Holford are currently being held at Boulder County Jail.

If you have any information about this crime, you're encouraged to phone the Northern Colorado Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) or 1-800-444-3776.

Send your story tips to the author, Michael Roberts.

More from our Colorado Crimes archive circa August 2011: "Timothy English: Assault charge for panhandler who clubbed man over 'f*cking change.'"

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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