Why It Took 7 Years to Sentence Javier Aguirre for Lyndsay Pham's Murder

Update: It's taken nearly seven years to sentence Javier Aguirre for killing Lyndsay Pham at Aurora's Descano Plaza Apartments, which she co-owned and managed, even though police suspected Aguirre from the early stages of the investigation.

Part of the reason: Aguirre fled to Mexico, and extraditing him proved difficult owing to his status as a Mexican national and the fact that he was wanted for murder, a crime that could have resulted in a death sentence — and while the United States allows capital punishment, Mexico does not.

Yet formalizing Aguirre's punishment didn't happen for more than a year even after he was finally incarcerated in Colorado for the crime.

We first told you about Pham's murder in March 2010 and followed the story in October 2015, around the time Aguirre was returned to the States. This post incorporates our earlier coverage.

Around noon on March 3, 2010, as we reported at the time, officers with the Aurora Police Department were dispatched to the Descano, located on the 11100 block of East 16th Avenue.

The report: a critically injured woman subsequently identified as Pham. She had been beaten and was suffering from multiple stab wounds.

First responders rushed Pham to a nearby hospital, but she ultimately died of her wounds. In the meantime, officers canvassed the area looking for suspects but came up dry.

It didn't take long for investigators to identify two suspects: Descano assistant manager Lupe Rubio and Javier Aguirre, who were thought to have conspired to kill Pham.

Rubio subsequently confessed to her role in the crime and is currently a Colorado Department of Corrections inmate; she received a seventeen-year sentence. But Aguirre evaded responsibility for his alleged role in the homicide for more than five years because he made it south of the border.

Getting Aguirre back to the U.S. wasn't easy.

In October 2015, 17th Judicial District DA Dave Young noted that he had to take the death penalty off the table.

Then he essentially needed to convince authorities in Mexico of his case's merits.

The process was long and laborious.

But to the great relief of Pham's family, extradition was ultimately arranged, and Aguirre made his first appearance in Adams County Court that month.

Last Friday, January 13, the sentencing was finally complete, with Aguirre receiving a 55-year jolt. During the proceeding, according to the 17th Judicial District DA's office, Pham's husband, Michael Pham, told the court he'd agreed to the stipulated sentence to prevent the couple's three kids from having to suffer through the detailing of Lyndsay's death.

"The crime-scene photos are horrific,” Adams County District Judge Craig Welling is quoted as saying. The defendant chose to escalate this from a robbery gone awry to a homicide. He chose to murder Ms. Pham in the most brutal manner."

 “Lyndsay Pham was a strong woman,” Chief Deputy District Attorney Ally Baber adds in a statement. ”She fought for her life. She fought as hard as she could, but she did not stand a chance against Mr. Aguirre. This is one of the most aggravated cases I’ve ever seen. The only appropriate sentence for the brutality of this murder is the full 55 years.”

Look below to see booking photos of Aguirre and Rubio.

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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