News Release|

An Aurora drug dealer has been found guilty of shooting and killing a man at Cherry Creek State Park.

An Arapahoe District Court jury on Wednesday found Joseph Wayne Washington, 31, guilty of second-degree murder in the death of Jackson Lee Chavez, who was 26. The jury also found Washington guilty of numerous counts of possession of drugs with the intent to distribute, among other charges.

Chavez was at a barbeque and got into an altercation with another man. Washington witnessed this. He got a gun from his backpack and shot Chavez twice.

“Add this murder to the growing list of senseless killings that make us question the direction in which our community is headed. There was no reason for Jackson Chavez to die,” said District Attorney George Brauchler. “We have become exasperated by the number of people among us who believe violence — including shooting someone to death — is an acceptable response to arguments and altercations. This is why we build prisons.”

The defense tried to convince the jury the murder was in self-defense. Prosecutors presented evidence to the contrary.

““The defendant was not legally authorized to use deadly physical force. This was murder,” Deputy District Attorney Laura Robilotta told the jury during closing arguments on March 18. “One to two punches is not a reason to use deadly force.”

After the murder, the defendant fled the scene, ditched his vehicle, got rid of the gun and made plans to leave town.

Investigators from the Arapahoe County Sheriff’s Office interviewed witnesses, tracked him down and arrested him.

“This defendant shot and killed Jackson Chavez by putting 2 bullets in his chest and neck. He did it on purpose,” said Senior Deputy District Attorney Thomas Byrnes. “He showed no regard for the life of Jackson Chavez that day.”

Sentencing is set for May 30. The presumptive range for just the top count is 16 to 48 years in prison.

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