An apartment maintenance worker has been convicted in a shooting that left one teenager dead and a young man injured.
An Arapahoe County District Court jury on Wednesday found Margarito Najera-Soto, 45, of Aurora guilty of second-degree murder, attempted second-degree murder, and first-degree assault. The charges stem from the death of Manuel Estevan Hernandez-Serrano, who was 18 and lived in Aurora, and injuries sustained by his 21-year-old cousin who was with him.
Najera-Soto and his victims did not know each other and had never encountered each other previously. The victims were unarmed.
“He emptied his handgun into a car from close range, murdering one teenager and nearly killing his cousin, and then calmly walked away. One life is cut short, an unimaginable loss for a family, and a life forever changed…all over nothing,” said District Attorney George Brauchler. “Isn’t this why we build prisons? I am hopeful the victims find some sense of closure and justice from the jury’s verdict in this case.”
On April 28, 2017, Najera-Soto was working at Residences at Trolley Park Apartments at 1445 Dallas Street in Aurora, doing grounds maintenance. Hernandez-Serrano was driving his cousin in a black Subaru Impreza on East 14th Street when Najera-Soto gestured to them. Hernandez-Serrano turned the car around and pulled alongside the defendant on 14th. The defendant then directed them into an alley near the parking garage. A few words were exchanged, and Najera-Soto fired six shots from his .38 caliber handgun into the car.
Hernandez-Serrano was shot in the head and chest and died. His cousin was shot in the knee, arm and abdomen and survived.
Najera-Soto called 911 and waited at the scene until Aurora police arrived.
“At trial, the defense claimed self-defense, but clearly that is not the case when the defendant convinced the two young men to pull over and then emptied his gun into their car,” said Senior Deputy District Attorney Brittany Martin. “We cannot explain why the defendant did it, but we know it was not self defense or the heat of passion – it was murder.”
Martin tried the case with Deputy District Attorney Erika Reuer.
“The defendant’s actions that day are inexplicable,” Reuer said. “He walked up to that car — shot those young men like fish in a barrel — and walked away.”
Sentencing is set for June 21. The presumptive range for the top count is 16-48 years in the Department of Corrections.