17th Judicial District Attorney’s Office Secures Two Murder Convictions in Back-to-Back Jury Trials as Trials Resume During the Pandemic
DA Brian Mason applauds the dedication of jurors and his staff during unique circumstances
Brighton, CO —Today, 17th Judicial District Attorney Brian S. Mason announced the first-degree murder convictions of Mauricio Eduardo Anchondo-Olivas, 29, and Steve Young, 45. Mr. Anchondo-Olivas and Mr. Young were each convicted after separate trials by jury. The two convictions mark the resumption of jury trials in the 17th Judicial District after a several month stoppage because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
On April 12, 2020, Easter Sunday, Javier Zamudio-Anaya, 43, attended a gathering at a home in Federal Heights with a group of individuals he knew. The men at the party, including Zamudio-Anaya and Mauricio Eduardo Anchondo-Olivas, 29, grew up in the same town in Mexico. Anchondo-Olivas was once a roommate of Zamudio-Anaya in Denver. The two men decided to leave the home sometime between 5:00 am and 6:00 am. They departed in Anchondo-Olivas’ truck, which later turned out to be stolen. At some point during that trip, Anchondo-Olivas shot Zamudio-Anaya twice in the abdomen and once in the head before slitting his throat.
Anchondo-Olivas abandoned his truck with Zamudio-Anaya’s body inside near 120th and Tejon in Westminster. After doing so, Anchondo-Olivas called a friend to ask for a ride. Surveillance cameras at a nearby bank captured the defendant’s departure. The friend later said that Anchondo-Olivas admitted to murdering Zamudio-Anaya. Anchondo-Olivas was convicted of first-degree murder and aggravated motor vehicle theft by an Adams County jury on Friday, April 9, 2021. The defendant was sentenced to life without parole. During the sentencing phase, Zamudio-Anaya’s 19-year-old son expressed deep sadness as a result of his father’s death.
Senior Lead Deputy District Attorney Patrick Freeman and Deputy District Attorney Jennifer Sisk led the prosecution team for this case.
Defendant Steve Young:
On June 1, 2020, at 12:21 pm, John Cyprian, 41, walked along 16th Avenue and Akron Street in Aurora with a female named Charly Lewis, 33. As they continued along 16th Avenue, a man driving a large gray SUV pulled up nearby. The driver, Steve Young, exited the vehicle and charged at Cyprian. Young brandished a 45-caliber handgun and fired the weapon at the victim. The bullet struck Cyprian in the small intestine and damaged a major artery. He crawled to a nearby field where he died. Young returned to the SUV with Lewis, and the two fled the scene.
Young was convicted of first-degree murder by an Adams County jury on April 2, 2021. The defendant will be sentenced on Friday, April 16, 2021, at 9:00 am, and the sentencing can be viewed via a virtual Webex link. Chief Deputy District Attorney Rhoda Pilmer and Senior Deputy District Attorney Chris Rossi led the prosecution team. Young is scheduled to be tried in Denver District Court for the murder of Charly Lewis later this year.
“These were senseless, gruesome crimes, and I am pleased that justice was served,” said District Attorney Brian Mason. “I’m grateful for the jurors who, despite the pandemic, still came in to hear these important cases and render just verdicts.” “I am especially grateful to my staff for taking these cases to trial and, with these convictions, making our community safer.” “These are incredibly difficult cases under normal circumstances, but the pandemic has made them significantly harder. I am truly proud of their hard work.”
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.
Ms. Gazelka is a forensic therapist and clinician in Denver, Colorado. She is currently focused on providing therapy and assessment services to adult offenders in the community corrections and parole systems as a supervisor at Correctional Psychology Associates (CPA). Her education and career have been devoted to the intersection of psychology and law since 2000. Ms. Gazelka has been working within the field of forensic and correctional psychology since 2006, providing therapy in the community and acute mental health care and risk assessments in county jails. She has practiced as a Licensed Professional Counselor since June 2012. She also became a Licensed Addiction Counselor in March 2014. She was listed as a full operating level DVOMB Approved Provider in June 2019 and started a fledgling DV program oriented to Colorado’s Department of Corrections at CPA in September 2019. Ms. Gazelka was appointed to the Domestic Violence Offender Management Board (DVOMB) in March 2019 and has started her second term with the board. Ms. Gazelka has been recognized for her work as Contributor of the Year at CPA in 2010 and 2012, as well as having been awarded an Alumni Impact Award for her forensic work in the community by University of Denver’s GSPP in 2019. Ms. Gazelka received her Master of Arts degree in Forensic Clinical Psychology from University of Denver's Graduate School of Professional Psychology in 2009. Ms. Gazelka also received her Juris Doctorate from William Mitchell College of Law in 2007, obtaining attorney’s licenses in both Minnesota and Colorado (currently inactive).
Alex Castro Croy
Alex Castro Croy is a bilingual, bicultural, Trauma and Addiction Counselor and owner/Lead Clinician of Life Recovery Centers in Denver and Northglenn Colorado.
A first-generation immigrant from Mexico who accomplished his dream in higher education receiving an AA in Pastoral Ministry (Dallas, Texas), Bachelor of Science in Human Services (MSU in Denver, Colorado) and MA in Community Counseling from Regis University (Denver, Co). He is continuing to pursue his MA/Ph.D. from Pacifica Graduate Institute in Jungian and Archetypal Studies.
Alex’s passion includes training, teaching, counseling, and consulting. He has been an Adjunct Professor for the Human Services Department at MSU-Denver for 9 years. He has served as an Interventionist for the Latino GLBTQ community, Drug Court Probation Officer at Denver Juvenile Court Probation (8 years), Bilingual Diversion Officer for Denver DA office (5 years), and currently owner and director of Life Recovery Centers (7 years). He has worked with a variety of clients from all walks of life and his eclectic therapeutic interventions have proven to be effective in treating trauma and addiction.
Thea Wessel is an addictions counselor with a private practice in Colorado. She has been working in the criminal and addiction fields for thirteen years. Ms. Wessel earned her Masters in forensic psychology from the University of Denver and has her LPC, LAC, MAC, NCAAC, and ADS. She is working towards her Ph.D. in Transpersonal Psychology at the California Institute of Integral Studies. Ms. Wessel continually challenges herself and others to provide quality addiction treatment and ways to continue to educate the community about addiction issues.