17th Judicial DA

Judge Sentences Adams County Defendant to 28 Years in Prison for Opening Fire on a Vehicle With an AR-15, Killing the Driver

October 20, 2023

Brighton, CO — Today, District Attorney Brian Mason is announcing the prison sentence for William Schuette, 23, following his Second-Degree Murder conviction at trial on August 7, 2023. 

On February 8, 2021,
Mr. Schuette awoke to a burglary in progress at the Haraf Foods Market along Belle Creek Boulevard in Commerce City. Schuette lived in an upstairs apartment above the market. Mr. Schuette went outside onto a balcony armed with an AR-15 rifle and began to yell in the direction of those who were involved in the incident. Shortly thereafter, Schuette opened fire on the vehicle as it was attempting to drive away. The driver, James Martinez, 24, was attempting to leave the area when Schuette fired his weapon four times into the vehicle. Martinez was struck twice and later pronounced deceased at the scene. On August 7, 2023, after six days of trial, an Adams County Jury convicted Schuette of Second-Degree Murder. 

On October 20, 2023, an Adams County Judge sentenced Schuette to 28 years in the Department of Corrections. 

"While this was a tragic case on multiple levels, justice is ultimately reserved for the courtroom, not the streets," said District Attorney Brian Mason. "It's not the job of a man standing on his upstairs apartment balcony to pull out an assault rifle and open fire on a group of people in a car because he believes a crime is in progress. This defendant had no right to take the law into his own hands and take another man's life. I'm thankful the jury saw it the same way."

Assistant District Attorney Rhoda Pilmer and Senior Deputy District Attorney Brian McGarry led the prosecution of this case. 

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District Attorney Mason assumed the oath of office on January 12, 2021. The 17th Judicial District Attorney’s Office endeavors to seek justice on behalf of the citizens of Adams and Broomfield counties in felony and misdemeanor cases. DA Mason and his staff are dedicated to transforming the criminal justice system to better serve the citizens of the 17th Judicial District.

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